I love bread. And I love making bread.
It seems complicated, but it's really not - you get your starter or your yeast nice and active, then add flour and flavourings. Time is really your most important ingredient when it comes to bread - a nice slow rise in a cold fridge will develop flavour, while working the gluten in the dough will give you the perfect texture.
Foccacia is one of those foods which can be delicious on its own or with multiple toppings. I was watching the Great British Bake Off with my daughter the other evening and foccacia was one of the challenges - it reminded me of how much I love this kind of bread. I just had to make some.
I didn’t bother with elaborate toppings for this loaf (though if I had they would be caramelised onions and dollops of fresh pesto). Instead, I drizzle some really great-quality rapeseed oil over the top and added a generous sprinkle of flaky sea salt. You can top your foccacia with almost anything, so feel free to get creative once you have this base recipe mastered.
1 In a bowl, add the yeast and honey. Pour half the warm water over the top and let it sit for around 10 minutes, until the yeast is bubbly and active.
2 Add the remaining water, the bread (strong) flour, 2 tbsp oil and 2 tsp salt. Mix with your hands until a dough comes together. It will be sticky (this is normal for foccacia).
3 Knead in the bowl or on a lightly floured surface until the dough is smooth and elastic; about 10 minutes. Add the dough back into the bowl and let rise for one hour at room temperature.
4 Punch the dough down and reshape into a ball. Cover and refridgerate overnight.
5 The next day, punch down your dough and gently spread it out on to a baking sheet or tray. I turn the oven light on at this stage (or if your oven has a proving function, turn it on) and leave the tray in the warm oven to prove for another hour.
6 Using your fingers, poke holes in the dough all over the surface (this encourages even baking). Drizzle with oil and generously sprinkle on flaky sea salt. I leave it out at room tempterature while preheating the oven to 200°C.
7 Bake the foccacia until it’s nicely browned on top and completely cooked through. Let cool on a wire rack and eat immediately.