Focaccia Bread: The Perfect Recipe



Written by McDonald, T.  |  Date 18th of October 2021 

As much as I love flatbread, it is not that good at soaking up liquids.  I needed a bread that would adsorb liquids to go with soups and stews, so I searched the internet and the library looking for a suitable bread an I found, ironically, a sort of flatbread that was perfect for the job called Focaccia, an Italian flatbread.  Pleasingly, Focaccia is accidentally vegan because it is mainly just flour, yeast and water.  I then looked for the best recipes I could find.  As always, I found some fantastic ideas and recipes but none of them was exactly what i wanted; as a result, I used the best parts and common themes to create my own recipe.  Since I like to keep the roughage levels high, i added wholemeal flour to the recipe.  After some careful planning, I produced the perfect Focaccia bread.  Just for a little trivia, the Guardian (2018) in their article 'Rachel Roddy's recipe for focaccia; An authentic Italian recipe for the classic olive oil-soaked bread' states:  '...hearth bread was called panis foculis, which is the origin of the word "focaccia", a yeasted dough cooked quickly.' Making this bread was great fun and I was very pleased with the results; subsequently, I will make this again very soon!

Tips to think about before you get started

  • It doesn't have to be an exact size pan.  Just use anything that is close to that size because the dough will hold its shape, see figure 1.  The important thing is to make sure that the dough is at least 3 cm deep.  Remember that the dough will increase in size after the second proving. 
Figure 1, the dough doesn't have to fill the baking tin
  • Please, don't skimp on the oil.

  • If the water is too hot, you will kill the yeast.  If it is to cold, it will not rise in time.  In addition, there is an optimum temperature for the fermentation of yeast, which i found out from the BBC good food site. ' The optimum temperature is 38C/100F.'  (BBC good food 2021) 

  • If you think it needs to be left a little longer after proofing, then give it a bit more time. 

  • You don't need to go over the top with the kneading.  Gentle stretching is the way to go.

  • While you are kneading, you will find that the dough keeps sticking to the work top or board that you are using.  Whatever you do, resist the urge to add more flour.  Instead, use your dough scraper to scrape it of the surface while kneading.   If it is sticking to your hands a lot and stopping you from kneading, you have added too much water and you will need to add a little more flour, but not much.  Hydration is at 64%

  • Working out hydration 360g of flour x 0.64 hydration = 230ml (3 s.f.)

Literature search

BBC (2021)  BBC Good Food: 'Yeast'. Published by Immediate Media Company LimitedAvailable at https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/glossary/yeast-glossary (Accessed on 29/06/21).

Bianca Zapatka 'Vegan Focaccia Bread' Available at https://biancazapatka.com/en/vegan-focaccia-bread/  (Accessed on 29/06/21).  This gave me the idea of putting olives on top of the bread.

Lettuce Veg Out (n.d) 'Vegan Focaccia Recipe: Easy Herbed Focaccia Bread' Available at https://lettucevegout.com/recipes/vegan-focaccia-bread/ (Accessed on 29/06/21) 

Ratcliffe, J. (2018) 'Focaccia' Olive. Available at  https://www.olivemagazine.com/recipes/vegan/rosemary-and-olive-oil-focaccia/ (Accessed on 29/06/21).  This gave me the idea for the coarse sea salt. 

FITZPATRICK, T., 2009. Vegan Menu Ideas. Food management, 44(10), pp. 46. Available at http://libezproxy.open.ac.uk/login?url=https://www-proquest-com.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/trade-journals/vegan-menu-ideas/docview/215905154/se-2?accountid=14697 (Accessed on 29/06/21).  This gave me the idea for the bread in the first place.

'Rachel Roddy's recipe for focaccia; An authentic Italian recipe for the classic olive oil-soaked bread' (2018) Guardian [London, England], 29 May, available: https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A540772206/STND?u=tou&sid=bookmark-STND&xid=f51ffbb3 (Accessed 29 Jul 2021).  This gave me the idea for thickness tomatoes  and dimples.
 
Inspired taste 'Easy Rosemary Garlic Focaccia Bread' Available at https://www.inspiredtaste.net/19313/easy-focaccia-bread-recipe-with-herbs/ (Accessed 29 Jul 2021).


6 servings.

Time 2hrs 30 minutes from start to finish approximately. 

Ingredients

  • 150g (about a cup) strong wholemeal bread flower
  • 140g + 70g = 210g (about 1.5 cups) of all purpose flower
  • 1 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 230 ml (just under a metric cup) warm water 
  • 4 tbsp olive oil + some to drizzle on top
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 - 4 Sprigs fresh rosemary
  • Sliced olives (optional)
  • Tomato (optional) 
  • Sea salt for topping (optional)

Apparatus

  • Mixing bowl
  • Whisk
  • Measuring Spoons, Measuring Cups
  • Wooden spoon
  • Dough scraper  
  • Spatula 
  • Basting brush
  • 25cm square baking pan or similar size


Method 

  1. In a large mixing bowl, add both flours, salt, sugar, yeast and mix with a whisk.

  2. Add the water a bit at a time and 2 tablespoons of oil then stir together until you get a shaggy dough.

  3. When the dough comes together, transfer to a floured board and gently knead 10 - 15 times until combined.  Depending on the flour you use, you might end up with a much stickier dough in which case it is OK to use a little more flour just to knead it a few times.  When kneading, you will not need to put a lot of effort into it or it will stick to the surface and your fingers.  Keep using the scraper to scrape it of the surface and knead.  If it keeps getting sticky, it is because you are kneading it to much, so stop.  

  4. Transfer the dough back to the mixing bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and let it proof (rise) for 1.5 hours in a warm part of your kitchen.

  5. After proofing, heat the oven to 200C.  This step depends on how long it takes your oven to reach the desired temperature. If it takes 30 - 40 minutes, complete this step now.

  6. While the oven is heating, use 2 tablespoons of olive oil a 25cm square rimmed baking tin or similar size.  I used my roasting tin.

  7. Transfer the dough to the baking tin then press it down into the pan with your fingertips. Use your fingers to dimple the dough and add the fresh rosemary, olives, chopped garlic and slices of tomato and drizzle the top with olive oil.  Let the dough proof again for 30 - 40 minutes covered in a warm place until it puffs up again.

  8. Bake in a preheated oven at 200C for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 5 - 10 minutes.  

Use your finger tips to press the dough into the pan
 
Add the toppings and drizzle more olive oil on top

Results 

Amazing! The combination of ingredients really worked well.  I was worried about two main things: the amount of yeast and the flour to water ratio.  Nonetheless, it seems i had nothing to worry about at all.  The bread proofed and rose as it should do.  I was worried that i had not put enough yeast in since many if not all of the recipes said to use a whole packet, about 7g, of yeast.  However, in my experience 1 tsp is enough and any more can lead to a yeasty taste to the bread.   

The bread was crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.  No yeasty taste and just enough salt and sugar.  I was really pleased with this!  As long as you stick to this recipe, you will get a really great focaccia bread fit for any vegan. 

 
 

 
Just look at that crispy crust! While in the oven, I could smell the most amazing aroma of rosemary and bread.  I could not have hoped for a better result.

Conclusion

I conclude, I will diffidently make this bread again.  It goes perfectly with soup and stews and even makes a great appetiser.  It was easy to make, i was done in 2.5 hours and there is nothing i would change about it.  If you decide to give this recipe a try, I predict that you , like everyone else, will be hooked!

I hope that you liked this blog and if you do try this recipe, please let me now how you got on and what it turned out like. You can leave a comment in the comments below.

References  

BBC (2021)  BBC Good Food: 'Yeast'. Published by Immediate Media Company LimitedAvailable at https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/glossary/yeast-glossary (Accessed on 29/06/21)

'Rachel Roddy's recipe for focaccia; An authentic Italian recipe for the classic olive oil-soaked bread' (2018) Guardian [London, England], 29 May, available: https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A540772206/STND?u=tou&sid=bookmark-STND&xid=f51ffbb3 (Accessed 29 Jul 2021).


 

Comments

  1. Step 7 says to add fresh rosary. Does used rosary work too?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol, i guess i must be thinking about the Holy Rosary more than i thought. :-)

      Delete

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