It seems that the recipe can be traced back to the Ancient Greece and Etruria (central Italy).
There are many kinds of typical Italian toppings fort the focaccia, but perhaps the most popular are olives; rosemary and coarse salt; caramelised onions or potatoes.
Impressive as they might seem, they are really easy to make. The secret to achieve a really open structure with big air holes, is that the dough has to be really wet.
The recipe contains loads of water and olive oil that helps emulsifying the dough allowing it to remain moist and soft.
The tricky bit is that “wet” doughs are a bit messy to knead.
They require a bit of muscle to develop a good gluten structure but really apart from that is a very straight forward bread.
To make one generous focaccia or two medium, you will need:
- 500g white flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 10g dried yeast
- 2 tbsp olive oil (plus more to drizzle, and work the dough)
- 400ml tepid water
- coarse salt to top
To top it you can add:
- ¾ cup of sliced olives
- 1 big onion (caramelised)
- 1 big potato thinly sliced
- Rosemary and coarse salt
- Provencal herbs
Place the flour, salt, yeast, olive oil and water in a bowl.
Begin mixing by hand to bring the ingredients together and form a sticky dough.
At this point you can use a strong spoon to knead the dough for about six minutes.
My preferred method is to oil my working surface, pour the wet dough and work it by stretching it as much as possible and using a scooper (baker’s spatula) to bring it together again.
After 10 to 15 minutes, transfer the dough to a greased baking dish. I generally use a glass baking dish, but you can use ceramic or metal.
Cover and let prove in a warm place for at least one hour or until it has doubled in size.
You can bake the dough in that same dish or transfer to a baking sheet.
Using your fingers prick deep holes into the dough and add the topping of your choice. Let prove for another 40 minutes.
Preheat the oven at 220C
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Drizzle with some more olive oil before slicing and serving.