I’m not really sure why I haven’t ever tried to make focaccia before. Maybe because it looks really impressive I’d assumed that it would be quite complicated and beyond my capabilities. But it turns out that it’s not really any more complex than any other yeast dough. Plus you get to have fun at the end playing around with all the toppings.
This is quite a light airy dough which does mean that working with it can get a bit sticky at times, if you just rub your hands with a little olive oil then it all gets a lot easier. You can also let your food mixer do the hard work of kneading if you have one.
You can top the foccacia with pretty much anything you fancy but I really like this sweet and savoury combination of figs, olives and creamy feta. Delicious!
350g strong white bread flour
1 tsp dried yeast
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp honey
200ml tepid water
3 figs, cut into quarters
handful of mixed olives
scattering of feta
sprinkle of seasalt (I used Cornish, naturally)
sprig of rosemary
Combine the water, yeast and one tablespoon of the oil in a jug to give it a bit of a head start.
Mix together the salt and flour in a large bowl. Stir the honey into the water and yeast and then add this to the flour. Mix everything together to form a nice soft dough. If it’s a bit too sticky at this stage then you can sprinkle in a little extra flour to absorb some of the moisture.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead the dough for several minutes (or use your food mixer) until it is soft, smooth and stretchy. Form the dough into a ball, pop it into a lightly oiled bowl and then cover it with some cling film. Put the dough somewhere warm and leave it to double in size, which should take about an hour.
Once the dough is ready take it out of the bowl and give it a very brief knead. Don’t work it too much, it’s actually quite nice if the focaccia has some larger air bubbles in it. Use the remaining tablespoon of oil to grease a large baking or roasting tin and then stretch out the dough to fit the tin. Re-cover it and then let it rise for another 30-45 minutes.
Whilst this is happening you can pre-heat your oven. Get it as hot as it will go, to at least 240°c. When the dough has finished its second rise uncover it and press your fingertips into the surface to create some dimples. Push the figs and olives into the dough and then scatter over the crumbled feta, rosemary and a little seasalt.
Bake the focaccia for 20 minutes, it should be golden with a thin crust once it’s ready. Serve warm with a little oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping.