I LOVE Foccacia. Few things are better than the olive oil-laden Italian bread when freshly baked. And it is so easy to make – what’s more, Foccacia is one of those rare breads which actually stands up pretty well to baking in a conventional oven.
We’ve topped our Focaccia with the classic pantry staples you would often use when making another great Italian classic – Putanesca. Typically used to coat pasta, we’ve instead topped our Focaccia with sweet, softened onions, black olives, semi-dried tomatoes, and a handful of anchovies and capers.
500g Strong White Bread Flour, plus extra for dusting
10g Instant Yeast,
140ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil,
360ml Cool Water,
1 Large Onion, sliced
200g Semi Dried Tomatoes,
A Handful of Pitted Kalamata Olives, about 100g
10 Anchovy Fillets, rinsed
2 tsp. Capers
Extra Virgin Olive Oil,
Place a large pan over a low heat with a lug of olive oil. Add the onion into the pan and cook for half an hour over a low heat, stirring the onions occasionally until soft, golden and sweet. Set aside to cool.
Lightly oil a large, deep-sided baking tray.
Into a large mixing bowl add the flour and make a well in the centre. To one side of the bowl, add the dried yeast and to the other, the salt. Add three-quarters of the water into the well of the flour followed by 40ml of the olive oil. Mix together with your hands or using a fork until a shaggy dough is formed. Gradually add the remaining water to the bowl until all the flour is picked up from around the bowl. You may not need all of the water or you may need to add slightly more – the dough should be slightly wetter than a standard bread dough.
TIP – It’s important to add the salt and yeast to opposite sides of the bowl as the salt can kill the yeast if placed directly in contact with each other before mixing.
Lightly oil your work surface before turning the dough out onto it. With oiled hands, knead the dough for 5-10 minutes, working through the initial wet and sticky stage, until smooth and somewhat elastic.
TIP – This is supposed to be a slightly wetter dough, so try not to add any additional flour when kneading. If necessary, add a little extra olive oil to ease the kneading
Add the dough into the oiled tray and cover with a damp tea towel or cling-film. Leave to rise until doubled in size – about 1 hour.
Generously oil a large, rectangular baking tray – approximately 35cm x 25cm.
Dust your work surface with flour before gently turning out the dough onto the work surface. Transfer the dough into the oiled baking tray spreading out to a rectangle, making sure not to handle the dough too roughly and keeping as much air in the dough as possible. Cover tightly with cling-film and leave to prove for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 200ºC (fan).
Uncover the dough and begin making deep indents throughout the dough using your fingertips, pushing down until you feel the bottom of the tray.
Evenly distribute the cooked onions, semi-dried tomatoes and the black olives throughout the dough, pressing them into the indents. Drizzle over half of the olive oil all over the dough – paying particular attention to the onions. Place into the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
TIP – Make sure the onions are well packed into the indents into the dough or they well cook too quickly and burn.
After 15 minutes, remove the focaccia from the oven and distribute the anchovies and capers over the top of the focaccia. Return the bread to the oven and bake for a further 3-5 minutes until golden and cooked through. Whilst still hot , drizzle over the remaining olive oil. Leave to stand for 10 minutes before serving.