Olive And Rosemary Focaccia
RECIPE: OLIVE AND ROSEMARY FOCACCIA
Olive and Rosemary Focaccia is so aromatic, flavourful and the best part is, that it is so easy to make. Enjoy it on its own with some flavoured olive oil, with some soup or even you pasta dish so that you can wipe the sauce off the plate with it. Take some focaccia along with some salad and wine for a picnic.
What Is Focaccia?
Focaccia is an Italian olive oil bread. It is flat and can be of any shape – round, square, rectangle or as individual portions. The focaccia dough is much softer than normal bread dough. It has a cake like texture and doesn’t need to be kneaded as much as the normal bread dough. A variety of toppings or fillings can be used to make focaccia.
The most important ingredient besides olive oil is herbs. During our visit to Italy we were fortunate enough to taste different varieties of focaccia. Some with toppings of mozzarella and tomatoes, some even with aubergine. First time bakers, go ahead and try your hands at this simple but scrumptious bread.
Some More Flatbreads From My Blog
Iranian Barbari Bread – a breakfast flatbread usually served with soft white cheese available locally and some Iranian jam.
Amaranth Flatbread – makes a good flatbread as a starter to serve with chutney, pickles, dips, etc.
Multigrain Garlic Naan – goes so well with curries.
What Sort Of Flour Is Required For Focaccia?
Any all purpose flour works well for this flatbread. You may use a combination of plain flour and wheat flour. Use spelt. Whichever flour you use, it has to have a bit of gluten so that you can get that nice cake like or bread like crumb.
Which Herbs To Use?
Fresh or dried, whichever you have. While my all time favourite is fresh rosemary, I have baked with dried mixed herbs, oregano on its own, and with basil too. So go ahead and use any herbs of your choice.
Olive Oil – Use The Best Quality
I know many countries make a blend of olive oil and other oils. Don’t use those! The olive oil must be of good quality. That is where most of the flavour of the focaccia comes from. My personal favourite from regular supermarkets id Bertolli Organic Olive Oil when available.
Talking about Olive Oils, whenever I am in Montreal, I don’t miss an opportunity to visit Jean Talon Market. Next to the market is an Olive Oil shop which so many different infused olive oils. So aromatic and tasty. Also they have a variety of aromatic balsamic vinegar.
Mix olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Use that as a dip for focaccia.
Feel free to use any topping of your choice:
- Tomatoes – sliced or baby tomatoes
- Just Herbs
- Green Chillis, Jalpeno
Use Toppings Or Fillings
Depending on what you are using, can add it as a filling, eg olives, cheese, herbs when you knead the dough after it is fermented.
Or using as a topping like a pizza. However, if you’re going to use pesto and rocket as a topping best to add after the focaccia is baked.
Add herbs and garlic in the dough makes the focaccia more flavourful.
Thick or Thin Focaccia?
Well it all depends on your preference. I like to bake them a bit thick if I am serving focaccia with some soup, stew or pasta. Thin ones if we are going to have them with a dip. Sometimes I bake extra thin ones, almost like a pizza. After it comes out of the oven, I brush it with olive oil infused with fresh garlic and herbs and serve cut into wedges.
Ingredients Required For Olive and Rosemary Focaccia
Plain Flour – usually the plain or all purpose flour available in Kenya, UK, Canada, US have a fair amount of gluten so are good for making focaccia. However, the plain flour in India has less gluten. So whenever I bake some in India, I like to add vital gluten powder which is easily available online (Amazon). For every cup of flour I add 1 tsp vital gluten powder.
Olive Oil – need some to add to the dough and need extra for brushing the baking tray and for adding on top of the focaccia before baking.
Warm Water – normal tap water but must warm it up. Required to form the dough.
Yeast – I use instant dry yeast. If you don’t have the instant variety then you need to ferment the yeast in the warm water. Add yeast and honey or sugar to the warm water. Mix and allow it to ferment for 10 minutes.
Salt – I use normal salt for the dough and then sea salt or pink Himalayan salt for topping.
Sugar/Honey/Maple Syrup – yeast tends to work better when the dough contains a sweetener. But it is optional. For a vegan version don’t use honey.
Olives – use pitted olives, whole or sliced. Any of your choice.
Rosemary – I have used fresh rosemary. You can use dried or any herbs of your choice.
Sea Salt or Pink Himalayan Salt – for topping.
Garlic – minced or finely chopped
photo courtesy Namrata Patel
OLIVE AND ROSEMARY FOCACCIA
- 2½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 tsp honey/sugar/maple syrup
- 1 tsp salt
- 1½ tsp instant active dry yeast
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 10 -12 olives black or green sliced
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary remove the leaves and chop
- ½ tsp coarse sea salt
- 1-2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsps olive oil for greasing the tray
- extra flour for dusting
- If you are using normal dry yeast, then you need to ferment it first. Put the yeast in one cup of warm water along with the honey/sugar. Cover it and let it ferment for 10 mins. The mixture will have become frothy.
- Sieve the flour into a bowl. Add the salt and oil and mix well.
- Add the fermented mixture or instant yeast to the flour. If using instant yeast add the warm water to the flour. Bring everything into a dough.
- Turn the dough onto a work top or board. Sprinkle a bit of extra flour. Knead the dough till it becomes soft and smooth. I prefer to knead it for 5 minutes. If the dough is sticky, don't be tempted to add more flour. Instead smear some olive oil on your hands and work the dough.
- Lightly grease the bowl with olive oil. Place the dough in it. Rub oil over the dough. Cover and set it in a warm place to rise till it becomes double the size. This usually takes about 1½ -2 hours depending on how warm your kitchen is.
- Knock the dough down. That is, gently press the dough with your hand.
- Add olives, rosemary and garlic to it and gently mix into the dough. If you want to use it for topping only, then omit this stage.
- Grease a baking tray with the 2 tbsp of olive oil. I used a 9"X 13" tray. You can make it round or square. Shape the dough as required.
- Spread the dough into the greased tray. Use your fingers to spread it.
- Let it rise again till its nearly double the size. It will take about 30-45 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C.
- Sprinkle the 2 tbsp of olive oil over the dough.
- Using your fingers, slowly and gently create dimples all over the risen dough.
- Sprinkle the sea salt over it. Add rosemary and olives on top if using them as a topping.
- Bake in a preheated oven for 15 - 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
- Let the bread cool down completely on a wire rack.
- Cut into pieces/ wedges. Serve with salad, soup or as a starter.
- If you don't get fresh herbs use dried herbs.
- I prefer to add the filling to the dough so that during baking it does not get burnt.
- If you want a thinner bread, use a bigger tray.
- Don't be tempted to make the dough hard by adding more flour. Instead, use oil and knead.
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