The 5 O'Clock Apron
Focaccia is an early form of pizza, a simple yeasted bread dough studded with flavour, smothered with olive oil and baked.
Where focaccia is different from a loaf of bread is in the process of flattening and flavouring the dough. With firm claw-like fingers, dimple the risen dough and deposit the grapes deep into the waiting pockets. Be sure not to go through the dough to the other side – just deep enough for them to remain embedded during the baking process.
Stoned cherries, stoned and chopped apricots, peaches, and even cubes of cooked pumpkin with fresh rosemary and rock salt, work well with this recipe.
Makes one 44 x 30cm focaccia
You Will Need
Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7.
Use 1 tablespoon of the oil to grease a 44 x 30cm baking tray, then tip the proven dough out on to the greased tray. With a rolling pin, roll once to the left and once to the right from the centre of your dough. You don’t want to squash all the air out of the proven dough; you just want to shape it outwards and along the tin and for it to be approximately 2cm thick.
Cover with the tea towel and rest again for 40 minutes.
With firm claw-like fingers, press the surface of the dough down (taking care not to go through the dough to the bottom of the tin).
Push the grapes deep into the fingermark holes. With another tablespoon of olive oil rubbed into your hands, gently coat the entire surface of your loaf.
Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then turn it down to 190°/gas mark 5 and bake for a further 20 minutes or so, until crusted and golden brown.
On exit from the oven, immediately pour the remaining olive oil over the focaccia – the hot dough will suck the oil up. This will give your focaccia its characteristic chewy crust.
Leave to cool slightly in the tin before cutting.
Basic Bread Recipe (Makes 1 Foccacia)
Put the flour, salt and yeast into a big mixing bowl.
Add the water. Cold water is fine to use. The prove doesn’t need to be jump-started by warm water. A slower prove makes for better bread.
Using a large metal spoon, give the ingredients a vigorous mixing to combine. After a minute or so of mixing, the dough should be cohesive and pulling away from the sides of the bowl in a big ball. It will feel wet. It should do: don’t be tempted to add more flour.
Cover the bowl with a clean, damp tea towel and leave to rest on the worktop for an hour or more – you want the dough to approximately double in size.