There’s something supremely comforting about focaccia. Maybe it’s the sublimely salty crust, maybe the delightfully squishy insides and maybe the fact that it makes a delightful vehicle for cramming a load of olive oil and balsamic vinegar into your face. Whatever it is, I can’t get enough, but until this past weekend I’d never thought myself capable of whipping up my own loaf.
I decided to challenge myself and immediately consulted the Italian Oracle that is Gennaro Contaldo. Not only is he a total authority on Italian food, he also ranks at the top of my list of TV chefs who look like they give amazing hugs (followed closely by Tom Kerridge and Nigella Lawson. Okay so it’s clearly just a top 3).
And, my gosh, was I glad I trusted in Gennaro! This bread has the most amazing salty, rosemary scented crust and the inside is soft and airy. It’s insanely easy to make and whilst gorgeous dipped in olive oil, it also makes a perfect sandwich with lashings of dolcelatte cheese, a handful of cherry tomatoes and a couple of cheeky basil leaves.
I mean look at that crust! Look at it! Irresistible.
I wish I had this sandwich right now!
Rosemary & Sea Salt Focaccia
Adapted slight from Gennaro Contaldo for BBC Food
500g strong white bread flour
7g instant yeast
1 tsp table salt
Olive oil for greasing
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp flaked sea salt
In the bowl of a mixer with the dough hook attached combine the flour, yeast, salt and 350ml lukewarm water until a soft dough is formed. Knead it with the dough hook for 5 mins. (If mixing and kneading by hand you’ll have to knead for more like 10 – 15 mins) Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and leave it to rise for 30 mins.
Next line a roughly 37 x 27 cm baking tray with baking paper and tip the dough into it, pushing it gently into the corners. Drizzle it with the olive oil, sprinkle on the salt and rosemary and then press your fingers deep into the dough, right to the bottom, all over the loaf. Leave uncovered for about 45 minutes to rise again.
Preheat the oven to 240C / 450F and bake the loaf for about 15 mins until golden brown. You may need to turn the tin half way through to make sure it’s evenly browned. Remove from the oven and drizzle with a little extra oil (I forgot this step, oops!). Serve when cooled slightly. Enjoy!