This is one of the most popular breads on our village bread box delivery and known in some friends house by the kids as David’s bread; the dough is a bit challenging to make as it’s so soft but it forms this incredibly big pillow that gives a satisfying wobble when patted and you can just imagine sinking into it for an afternoon nap; well maybe…The recipe uses a biga which is a pre-ferment made in advance to add flavour and texture to the dough so you need to plan ahead if you’re going to make some foccaccias but you’ll be glad you did!
- 9 oz 2 cups (250 g) 00 flour
- 9 fl oz 1 cup 2 tbsp (250 ml) room temperature water
- ¼ tsp (1 g) fast acting yeast
- All the biga
- 1 lb 2 oz 4 cups (500 g) 00 flour
- 2 fl oz 4 tbsp (60 ml) olive oil
- ⅛ oz 1¼ tsp (5 g) fast acting yeast
- ½ oz 1½ tsp (15 g) fine sea salt
- 10 fl oz 1¼ cups (275 ml) water
- 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 medium red onions, peeled and very finely sliced
- A handful of fresh marjoram or a level tsp of mixed dried herbs
- 1 fl oz 2 tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- Coarse sea salt
To make the Dough
- Mix the yeast, flour, salt, 1 tbsp of the oil and the water with the biga. Mix to a soft, sticky dough.
- Knead the dough on a clean surface for about 5 minutes. The dough will be very sticky but resist the temptation to add more flour; this wet dough will give a fabulous bubbly texture to your final bread. To knead the dough, it’s easier if you continuously lift it off the table with your finger tips, stretching it towards you and folding it back over itself. Try not to break through the outer surface of the dough as then it will become very messy this sounds complicated but it’s just practise and worth the mess as it does make amazing foccaccia.
- Tip the remaining olive oil in to a shallow tray. Place the dough in the oil. Cover the dough and leave for 1 hour to rise.
- Oil a patch of your work top and gently tip the dough on to it. Using the tips of your fingers, dimple the surface of the dough and ease it gently into a rectangle about 30 x 25 cm/12x10”.
- Scatter the tomato halves across the dough and press each one firmly down into the dough. Cover the dough again and leave for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes dimple the dough again and press each piece of tomato further into the dough. Leave it for another 10 minutes.
- Press any tomatoes that are making a bid for freedom back into the dough and sprinkle on the herbs. Toss the onions in the 2 tbsp oil and spread these over the dough then sprinkle generously with some coarse sea salt.
- Using a well floured peel, put the bread on the oven floor and put the door on so it’s ajar. Bake the foccaccia until the upper surface is a good golden brown. If the bread is browning too quickly, put a deep roasting tin over the top to protect it. The loaf should take about 15 minutes to bake - the foccaccia will be golden brown and firm on top but still springy inside.