Focaccia always seems so expensive in the shops so I always try and make it at home. I have a quick focaccia recipe, inspired by Lorraine Pascal, which always goes down well. However, my favourite is a traditional focaccia genovese. This needs overnight proving but the result is worthwhile.
This classic focaccia is made wth soft wheat flour, mixed long and well, with yeast, oil, water and salt.
It is left to rise and then stretched out by hand onto baking sheets, greased with an emulsion of oil. The focaccia is cooked in the one for about 20 minutes at medium-high heat.
I used 00 type flour which is finally milled and had a protein rating of 14%. The only 00 flour I could find locally was labelled as '00 grade pasta' flour although I feel this is a marketing label as most people tend to buy 00 flour for making pasta. I've also used Canadian Manitoba flour and to be honest I was hard pressed to notice any great difference.
This focaccia uses a biga which is left over night and for at least 16 hours. The biga is there to assist fermentation and helps add flavour. I've also used a little dried yeast although a better flavour would develop if no yeast was used and the fermentation was over a longer period. The Biga should have tiny champagne type bubbles when it is ready to be used.
This recipe makes 2 large focaccia. Halve the measurements to make one focaccia.
640g 00 flour
640g water (16-22c)
0.25g dried yeast
960g 00 flour
512g water (16-22C)
5g dried yeast
96g Olive oil
Make the biga in a large rectangular tray by mixing the ingredients and leave covered for at least 16 hours in a warm place (between 16-22C). The biga should show clear signs of fermentation with champagne type bubbles clearly visible.
Mix half of the dough water to the biga and incorporate with your hands. Add this mixture to a large stand mixer bowl and start on slow speed (If using ingredients above then divide into two as the volume will be too large for a normal domestic mixer). Add rest of ingredients apart from the olive oil. As everything comes together add rest of the water. Add the Oilve oil during the last minute of mixing. The mixed dough should be stretchy and easily handled.
Tip the dough onto an oiled rectangular tray and rest for one and a half hours.
Fold the dough in on itself (East-West-North-South) and invert.
Sieve flour on top of dough and on workbench. Invert dough onto bench and sieve flour on top of dough.
Push dough out into rectangle. Cut into two pieces (about 1.8kg each).
Shape by folding the two sides into the centre and press down. Fold furthest side to nearest side and press down. Invert dough. It should now be a slipper shape as per Ciabatta.
Oil parchment lined baking tray and your hands.
Pick up the dough and place onto oiled tray. Cover with oil and gently rub all over top. Spread out dough gently with hands and leave for 30 minutes.
Spread out dough into rectangle on tray with hands. Use finger docking technique (press fingers gently into dough t create dimples) and let rest for 30 minutes.
Add toppings at this stage. I used crushed tomatoes and sea salt on one side. The other side was sliced red onion, grated parmesan cheese and rosemary.
Heat oven to 200C and bake for about 20 minutes until the toppings have started to brown.
This focaccia is wonderful out of the oven but is also great cold.