This Italian, focaccia inspired bread recipe is versatile and adaptable whilst at the same time easy to prepare and bake, a treat especially for those who enjoy Italian flavours. There are many regional Italian recipes and styles of focaccia bread, including garlic, chilli, herb and sweet variants. Truly a recipe to adapt to taste and occasion, use as a side dish with a meal, serve it with a light salad and cheeses or top with your choice of ingredients to serve pizza style. When you have some left over, focaccia makes amazing croutons when cut into small squares and toasted in the oven till crispy and served with a rich tomato soup. I’ve used one of my favourite variations in this focaccia bread recipe, the rosemary and cranberry combination with a drizzle of virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of ground sea salt… delicious!
For the dough
500g 18oz Strong White Flour. (I occasionally use a mix or wholemeal and white.)
2 tbsp good virgin olive oil.
1 tsp salt.
1 tsp sugar.
1 ½ sachets of dried yeast.
300ml warm water or enough to bring to a dough, use a little at a time.
For the topping
1tbsp chopped fresh rosemary or 1tsp of dried herb
Cranberries, use fresh if available or use a cranberry sauce as I do, 4tsp to taste.
Extra ground salt to taste, sea salt or Himalayan.
Extra olive oil to drizzle, use your own favourite.
Don’t forget to adapt the recipe to your own tastes using chilli flakes, sundried tomatoes, cheese, garlic or basil.
You will need a deep sided pan for your focaccia bread, use whichever size you have and if you have, use either one large oblong pan or 2 medium sized pans. Alternatively use a flat baking tray and pat down the dough making it into a round pizza style bread.
Oil the baking tray or pans well with olive oil and preheat the oven to Gas Mark 7/ 220c/ 425f
Add to a mixing bowl, the strong flour, salt, sugar and dried yeast. Now add the olive oil to the warm water and mix well before adding to the dry ingredients, combine gradually until it forms a dough. Flour a clean flat surface and knead well for about 5-10mins turning and pounding until the dough has a smooth elastic feel. Oil well a deep bowl and cover with a damp tea towel and leave to raise for 1 hour in a warm place. Once risen, knead again for a few minutes and put back to raise again for another 20mins before turning out onto a well-oiled deep tray or baking sheet depending whether you are making a pizza style focaccia or oblong tray baked focaccia and press the dough into the corners of the tray or press down the dough ball into a round. Next step; with oiled fingers, make indents into the dough all over ready to receive its olive oil drizzle and herb, chilli or tomato topping, however you prefer to flavour your bread. I added 1tsp or dried rosemary, finely chopped and mixed with olive oil and spread liberally over the dough and then added the cranberry sauce equally over the indented dough, finishing off with a grinding of salt all over evenly, not too much, just a few twists of the salt grinder for even coverage.
Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 15-20mins until a golden-brown colour, and once out of the oven drizzle again lightly with olive oil before serving, still warm.
Use your own ideas to serve as mentioned before, makes a delicious side dish or served with a light salad and cheeses on a platter. A delicious, versatile bread and simple to make. Give it a try and enjoy!