Foccacia - A two day project
While Monica has an insanely good three day recipe for foccacia, I've settled on a two day version which does the job. This is Jenny by the way, ghost writing as Monica, we haven't figured out how to add a different author in the settings!
This recipe involves making a 'biga', a quick starter with yeast, 12 - 24 hours ahead of making the bread.
Here's the recipe.
250g Type '00' Italian Flour - or plain flour or strong white bread flour
250ml cold water
1/4 teaspoon Fast Action Dried Yeast
Mix these ingredients together and leave, covered, at room temperature for at least 12 hours until bubbles form on the surface. If you can't bake the bread at this stage pop the biga in the fridge.
300g Type '00' Italian Flour or strong white bread flour
7g Fast Action Dried Yeast
45ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
9g fine salt
50ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Flaked Sea Salt
You can begin making your bread when the biga has doubled in size and the surface is covered in bubbles.
Place the biga in the bowl of a stand mixer and add the rest of the dough ingredients. Make sure the salt and yeast do not touch as this can stop the yeast from working. Stir the ingredients together loosely with a spoon or spatula to incorporate the flour.
Attach the dough hook to your stand mixer and mix on a very slow speed. When it is all starting to come together increase the speed to 6 if using a Kitchen Aid or medium if using another kind of mixer.
Continue to mix for around 6 minutes or until the dough is elastic and pulling away from the sides of the bowl and sticking to the dough hook.
Take another large bowl and oil it lightly with olive oil as this dough is really sticky. Remove the dough from the dough hook and using a dough scraper, scrape the dough into the oiled bowl. Oil a piece of cling-film and cover the bowl. Place it somewhere warm for 60-90 minutes or until it has doubled in size. The dough should be very stretchy and sticky by this point.
Prepare a normal baking tray, around 25cm by 35cm 2-3cm deep - ideally you should line this with oiled, non stick baking paper as the bread does tend to stick itself to the tin.
Take the dough from the bowl and drop it into the baking tray. Using your fingers stretch the dough until it fills the whole tray. Cover lightly with oiled cling film and leave to rise for another 30 minutes.
After the bread has proven pour the topping olive oil gently over the bread so it all stays in the pan. Gently use your fingers to make indentations all over the dough to give it the signature focaccia look, pressing down the bottom of the tray, but not piercing the dough. Add extra sea salt and rosemary if you like (I do!). Leave to prove for another 30 minutes.
Pre-heat your oven to 200C Fan and place a small tray of water in the bottom of your oven. When the oven is hot the water will provide some much needed steam. Bake it in the pre-heated oven for 20-25mins until golden. You don't want it too dark. The bread may come out quite hard but will soften as it cools. Brush with more olive oil, again to taste!
NB/ the picture is of a double recipe loaf! Your loaf won't be this high with single recipe.