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Christmas has barely passed and I am already dreaming of summer. Am I the only one who would love to skip the other seasons and just seamlessly cycle in between Christmas and hot summer days? Long days, dining outside and picnics? Yes, please! I love going on a little hike or bike ride and enjoy a picnic in the great outdoors. However, until the temperatures improve there is only one thing I can do to bring a little bit of summer feel into the house. Plating up a wide range of antipasti and serving freshly baked focaccia with some roasted vegetables is the next best thing when it’s still too cold to fire up the grill.
Focaccias are one of those things that are wildly underrated in my opinion. For many people, it’s just another white bread, but to me, it’s much more than that. It makes fantastic sandwiches if you decide to cut it into large pieces. You can cut it very thinly and dip it into sauces or just tear it and have it with a lovely bowl of steaming hot stew. I have bought focaccia on a few occasions due to lack of time, but the store bought variety never satisfied me. It either was too greasy because too many toppings were added or it was too dry. Luckily it is very easy to make your very own focaccia, so you’re only a small hour and a half away from the perfect bread.
I use one bowl to make this bread, and it’s oh so easy to make. Simply pour the flour into a large bowl and create a well. Add all the dry ingredients and the oil to the centre of it. Pour the lukewarm water into it and give it a very gentle stir. All you need to do now is wait until the yeast is ready and you see bubbles form on the surface. Knead it and let it rise until it doubled in size. Punch it down and tip it into a greased baking tray.
I gently press it into the form until it fills it entirely, then I let it rise some more. After that is is just a matter of poking holes into it with your fingers and baking it in the oven. I love to serve mine with a generous pinch of coarse sea salt, fresh rosemary and olive oil.
Home Made Focaccia with Garlic and Herbs
- 500 g strong bread flour
- 2¼ tsp dry active yeast
- 350 ml water lukewarm
- 3 tbsp extra olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- Pour the flour into a large bowl and create a well. Add the remaining dry ingredients and the oil. Pour in the lukewarm water, stir it gently and let it sit for 5 minutes. This will allow the yeast to develop. It will be ready when it is slightly bubbly on top.
- Knead the dough until all ingredients are evenly combined, which may take a minute or two. Knead* vigorously for around 5 minutes until you have a smooth, and soft dough. Resist the urge to add flour. The stickier the dough the softer your foccacia once it is baked.
- Lift the dough out of the bowl and oil it lightly. Place the dough back into the bowl and cover it with a cloth. Leave it in a warm place for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
- Once the dough has risen, punch it down and tip it into a lightly oiled baking form. Gently push it into the shape of the form and push dents into it. You can use your knuckles or a cooking spoon to create the indentations.
- Preheat your oven to 220°C/425°F and leave the dough in a warm place for another 20 minutes.
- Brush the dough with oil, scatter some fresh herbs and sea salt on top of it. Bake the focaccia for about 20 minutes until it is golden brown.
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