Rach: If you love carbs like me, especially bread, Focaccia’s a good choice every now and then since it’s much healthier than cakes and junk food. Focaccia’s probably one of the staple foods in Italy. Most people would know it as a flat-oven baked bread that’s really similar to pizza bread (yums!). So usually the main ingredients for Focaccia are olive oil, rosemary herbs, sage (optional), thyme and of course, flour. Other than that, you could always throw in some shallots, cheese or meat!
And… it’s easy to make too! Got your standing mixer ready? Don’t have one? It’s ok. You’ll just develop those (baking) muscles soon enough!
- 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoon of active dry yeast
- 1 table spoon of dried thyme leaves (if you like a stronger taste, then more herbs!)
- 2 teaspoons of dried rosemary herbs (again, more if you like it flavorful)
- 3 1/4 cups of plain flour
- 2 teaspoons of coarse salt
- Maiden sea salt for sprinkling (if you don’t have this, coarse salt is fine)
1. In a standing mixer, attach the dough hook. Combine 6 tablespoons of warm water to the sugar, and yeast. Stir to dissolve, let it stand for about 5 minutes till bubbles start to form. Add oil, one cup of warm water, the herbs and stir.
2. Add flour and salt, and mix on low speed till all the flour is mixed into the dough for about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium and continue mixing until a very sticky dough forms. At this time, the standing mixer is probably vibrating violently. So yeah. Hold it down. Don’t forget to stop the mixer for one or two times to clean the hook, and give it a quick mix from bottom to up to make sure that dough at the bottom of the base isn’t forgotten, or neglected.
3. After 3 minutes, transfer the dough (yes take it out) to a CLEAN TABLE/SURFACE. It’s time to get your hands working, kneed the dough with lightly floured hands until it’s smooth and elastic. About 2 minutes or so?
4. Place your dough on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Coat the whole dough with oil including the base. Cover lightly with a plastic wrap and transfer the tray or bowl to a warm place. Now we’ll wait for about 45 minutes to let the yeast work its magic.
5. 45 minutes has passed. Now, nope, it is not ready for baking yet. Give the dough another round of kneading. This is called proofing.
5. 30-45 minutes later. Another round of kneading. I’m sorry, i said it was easy, but i didn’t say that it would be fast! Technically, you could bake it after the first 45 minutes, but your bread will feel pretty dense. It gives you a ‘heavy’ feeling when you’re chewing on it. I’ve actually heard that you’re supposed to proof your bread 6 times in ‘Master Chef Australia’ to achieve and light and fluffy texture. But hey, we don’t have all the time in the world do we.
6. After 2 or 3 times of proofing (or more), flatten out your dough onto your baking tray (with oiled baking paper beneath). I like my bread flat like pizzas so i flatten them a lot, as much as i can. But if you don’t mind, just press out to fill the pan (9×12 inch pan). Preheat your over to 210 degrees Celsius. Let the dough rest, cover with plastic wrap for another 10 minutes. THANK GOD.
7. Drizzle all over the dough with olive oil, and sprinkle some extra herbs on top together with the sea salt or coarse salt. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Give it a knock/tap with a spoon to see if it sounds hollow. If it is, you’re in luck! Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
*Never kneed your dough with too much flour on your work surface. It makes your dough dry out.
*The longer you proof, the lighter and fluffier the texture of the bread.
*Remember to cool your bread on a wire rack, not on a plate or in the tray. If not it’ll condense and your bread will be soggy. OH NOES.