Focaccia is one of the most popular and certainly most loved baked goods in Italy. Practically every region has its own: they are all different but united by simple nutrients, and tradition. The basic ingredients are more or less always the same, however the focaccia is produced in a very wide range of varieties that differ in seasoning and processing.
I have adjusted my recipe based on my tastes and needs, taking a bit from here and there, the result is a high focaccia with a slightly crunchy edge and a very soft consistency.
A variation in my recipe is to use a mashed potato to give a softer texture and I like to let the dough rest in the refrigerator overnight for a sharper and more complex flavour. These are optional, just try them if you feel more adventurous and got the extra time.
You can hand knead or use a stand mixer or bread machine.
You’ve got the tips, now let’s bake!
1. Mix the yeast, sea salt, sugar and flour in a large bowl, make a well in the center.
2. Pour in the water and olive oil and mix with a wooden spoon until it comes together. Add your mashed potato, if using, you might need to wet your hands to incorporate a bit more.
3. Knead for a few minutes, if necessary rest for 15 minutes to facilitate the absorption of liquids, resume the dough and knead for a short time. Place the dough in the bowl lightly greased with oil and cover it with a lid or cling film. Let it rise for about 2 hours until doubled in volume.
If you decide on the overnight option put it in the refrigerator after covering it, for at least 12 hours, up to 24. Adjust accordingly to your baking time, morning or before dinner time.
If you instead have a heavy duty stand mixer with paddle, pour in all the ingredients together (step 1 & 2) and knead for a couple of minutes.
4. Generously grease some baking paper on a rectangular pan and turn the dough inside out onto it. Press it out with your fingertips until the entire pan is covered with dough.
I use my oven tray or two 9×11 inches rectangular tins.
5. Let it rise for another 2 hours, until the dough has reached the edge of the pan. Pour some olive olive oil on top of the dough and some in your hands and gently sink your fingers all over the dough very gently (this is my favourite part).
6. Toppings: for a classic focaccia sprinkle some coarse sea salt and fresh rosemary; for an Italian southern style some cherry tomatoes, season with oil and oregano and finish with a pinch of coarse salt.
7. Bake at a temperature of 180° C for 20-30 minutes, or until completely golden.
However, If you are feeling creative, get your veggies out, chop them and arrange them in all sort of designs. Garden focaccia are the latest trend, you can make all type of flowers, trees, butterflies. I’ve even made a bicycle with a head of garlic cut in two. Not feeling like Van Goh then use a geometric style, or if you love Picasso then go for a self portrait, choices are endless!
Can’t wait to see your focaccia!