This bread is such a crowd-pleaser at dinner parties and picnics! Best of all it is easy to make, low cost, feeds many, tastes amazing and lasts (if you can resist) for about 1 week.
We have made it so many times - depending on temperature and type of flour, freshness of the yeast, oven temperature and the amount of attention that is put into shaping it, it comes out a little different every time - BUT it always tastes great!
800g regular flour
1 tablespoon of salt (plus more for sprinkling on at the end)
3/4 block of fresh yeast (the full block is usually around 42g)
600mls luke-warm water
2 teaspoons honey
50mls olive oil (plus more for drizzling over the bread during cooking)
2 teaspoons oregano to taste (or other dried herbs of your choice for topping)
1. Start with a large bowl - add the flour and salt.
2. In a separate container, dissolve the fresh yeast and honey in the luke-warm water then add it to the flour mixture
3. Mix gently with a spoon until the liquid is absorbed and the mixture will be quite sticky
4. Pour the oil over the mixture and cover the bowl with plastic film
5. Let it rest in a warm place until the dough doubles in size (1 hour is fine if you're short on time)
NOTE: I have left it for up to 12 hours - overnight or while at work - it still works well but the yeast has really broken down by then and I think the focaccia was a little less 'fluffy' - still tasty though.
6. After the dough has doubled in size....(see pic), preheat the oven to 220 deg Celsius (fan oven is best)
7. Cover a large oven pan with foil and oil or backing paper to prevent the bread from sticking and then turn the dough out onto the tray. You'll notice it is still very sticky but now it will look 'stringy' with plenty of air inside.
8. Being careful not to lose the air within the dough, pull the dough gently to the edges of the tray and then with moistened fingers, press to create small, evenly spaced 'dimples' all over (see pic).
9. In a small amount of warm water, dissolve a teaspoon of salt and sprinkle it over the dough so that the dimples are partially filled with water and then put into the hot oven for 5-10 minutes.
10. When the bread starts to rise but before it browns, take it out and drizzle olive oil and herbs of your choice on top and return it to the over for another 5-10 minutes or until golden brown.
11. Remove and enjoy!
NOTE: this is a traditional bread from Liguria in Italy - they eat it with Cappuccino for breakfast...!