I wouldn’t normally challenge myself to work with yeast doughs in the summer because it’s hard enough keeping myself sane. Managing dough tantrums in sweltering heat is therefore absolutely not a character-building exercise I’d usually get into but, but, but, but. If the dough is as simple, as well-behaved and as low maintenance as this one, I think I’m definitely going to be making bread all summer.
(Also, is this criminal May-in-Mumbai type heat in March scaring anyone else!!)
Guys, this focaccia is one of the nicest, nicest things I’ve ever baked. Brownies included. It’s soft, and fluffy and made with like three main ingredients. It was so ridiculously easy, I was convinced I’m doing something wrong. But one bite, and I knew this focaccia hasn’t seen the last of me.
I saw this recipe on Dessert For Two and had to give it a whirl because it sounded so perfect. I love olive focaccia, so decided to change the toppings up a bit, and threw some caramelised onions on there as well, which basically means this bread needs no accompaniment. There is a fair bit of olive oil in there, which is where all that remarkable flavour comes from. It’s tender and fluffy and reheats fabulously. Bonus, no eggs, no dairy!
The dough is soft, pliable, hardly sticky and rises in almost no time (possibly because of the heat that I’m currently cursing) and is honestly one of the nicest doughs I’ve worked with. If you have a stand mixer, awesome. If not, it’s still very doable, just a few extra minutes of kneading.
We’ve finished the whole batch off without thinking, and it’s amaaaazing with eggs for a weekend breakfast. The toppings are of course completely flexible. Just a simple herb and salt, or go to town with sun-dried tomatoes and whatever else. Doooo it!
The original recipe recommends a quarter sheet pan (9 x 13 x 1″) to bake this is in, but I didn’t have one. Turns out, my usual 8″ square pan works just as fine, though the focaccia was a little taller than if I had baked it in a sheet pan. It made no difference to the taste or texture, so work with what you have. Also, I discovered a brand of active dry yeast called Runaway Kitchen Art which I may now prefer to BlueBird. The yeast granules are finer, and I found it proofed better. Just a note 🙂
- ¾ cup water
- 1 and ¼ tsp active dry yeast
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 2 and ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt*
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 small onion, sliced
- ¼ cup pitted, sliced olives (drained very well from the brine)
- Extra olive oil for frying
- Heat the water till it's warm enough that you can dip a finger comfortably in it. If the water is too hot, it will kill the yeast. Sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the water, stir, cover and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes until nice and frothy.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook (or in a regular mixing bowl if doing this by hand), combine the flour, salt and ¼ cup olive oil and mix for a few seconds. Pour the yeast mixture in and knead for 5 minutes in the mixer, till smooth and just barely sticky. I found I needed to add an additional 1 tsp of water to get the dough to be cohesive. Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for 30 seconds till completely smooth. If doing this by hand, knead for 10 minutes in all.
- Lightly oil the mixing bowl, put the dough back in, cover with clingfillm and let rise at room temperature for about an hour or until doubled in size.
- Meanwhile, lightly fry the onions in a couple of teaspoons of olive oil until golden-brown. They will brown further in the oven, so don't let them get too dark. Set aside to cool.
- Now spread half of the remaining olive oil (about 2 tbsps) in an 8" square pan or quarter sheet pan (see notes before the recipe).
- Punch down the risen dough to release any air bubbles, then place it in the oiled pan. Using your fingertips, spread the dough evenly around, right up to the corners, taking care not to spread it too thin so it tears. Pour the last bit of the olive oil on top and spread evenly. Cover again with clingfilm and let rise until doubled, about an hour.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 220 C. Uncover the pan and sprinkle the onions and olives on top. Bake for 20 minutes until golden-brown on top. It is recommended that you flip the focaccia out immediately onto a cooling rack, my hunch is so that it doesn't get soggy. I found it easiest to use a flat metal spatula to slide it out onto the rack.
- Allow to cool completely before slicing into 9 equal pieces. Happy eating!
*Try and use a good-quality olive oil here since it's the main ingredients and gives all of the flavour.
*Prep-time does not include rise time.