Focaccia (pronounced foh-kaht-tchah) is a flat oven-baked Italian bread similar in style and texture to pizza. It is often described as a flat bread, or Italian flat bread that is flavoured with olive oil and sometimes topped with herbs and/or vegetables.
Focaccia in my own words, a thick pizza bread seasoned with herbs and/or vegetables. Saying that it can easily resemble a pizza depending on the toppings one chooses. In Italy one can find focaccia breads that vary greatly with different thickness, toppings, and texture.
Focaccia is meant to be simple, but recipes always make it sound much more elaborate than it really is. I have done lots of research on perfect focaccia over the years and I find there are 3 key things while making the focaccia.
The dough is quite similar to pizza dough and needs moist dough with ideally a minimum of 70% hydration. Another crucial step is to be extremely generous with the olive oil. Pretty much every step of focaccia making involves olive oil. Olive oil should be in the dough, used to grease the baking sheet, and the bread is brined before it goes in the oven. Lastly one needs to be uber patient and let it rest a long time (8-24 hours after the initial kneading) so the flavour can develop. This crucial step will allow for adequate fermentation, which in turn will guarantee superior (non-yeasty) flavour.
The proofing for 8-24 hours although helps in developing the flavours, sometimes I just fancy a home baked focaccia and do not have so much time in hand and hence try and proof as long as I can.
I do not like to overload the focaccia with toppings, might as well eat a pizza then. My recipe is of a delicious focaccia with some coarse salt and herbs. It is perfectly soft and fluffy and satisfyingly chewy. It is sprinkled with lots of herbs and crunchy flaky sea salt. If you fancy extra luxury then drizzle the focaccia with extra olive oil just before serving, which soaks perfectly into all of those little classic holes that you have poked in the bread.
1 cup (225ml) lukewarm water
1 teaspoon dried yeast
2½ cups plain flour (or more as needed to form the dough)
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
For Finishing the Focaccia
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon dried herbs
In the bowl mix the water, yeast and honey. Allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes until frothy. Add the oil.
Add the olive oil and one cup of the flour and mix to make a smooth paste. Then add the salt and the rest of the flour. Continue mixing until you have an elastic and just slightly sticky ball of dough. You may need to add in a little bit more flour, but the key is to remember that the dough should be slightly sticky and hydrated.
Grease a large bowl and gently scrape the dough into it. Turn the dough to coat it in oil. Cover the bowl and a let the dough rise at room temperature until doubled for 1-2 hours.
Line a baking tray with baking parchment and drizzle a good pour of olive oil on a parchment. Then scoop the dough onto the parchment. Flatten the dough out into a roughly rectangular shape with your hands, until it thinly and evenly covers the entire surface of the baking tray.
Cover the dough again and let it rest in a warm place for 2-3 hours to rise (or overnight in the fridge if you have the time and patience).
Preheat oven to 200C/ 180C Fan/Gas 6.
Mix the oil and water in a measuring cup and pour it over the dough. Spread it out over the surface of the dough with the palms of your hands. Now pressing the tips of your fingers, create little dimples all over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle the dough with the coarse salt and dried herbs.
Bake the focaccia in the pre-heated oven for 20-30 minutes, until the focaccia is golden brown on top.
Let the focaccia cool for couple of minutes before serving.
Serve warm or at room temperature.