NOTHING beats homemade bread. The thought of making it, however, can be intimidating if you've never done it before. Focaccia, particularly this way of making it, is a great place to start! Focaccia can be thin and crusty or thick and fluffy. This is an easy no-machine, no-knead, 5 ingredient recipe for the latter, "focaccia alta." Add your favourite toppings (I've suggested 4 below) or leave it plain. Either way, you'll end up with a soft and seriously flavourful Italian bread that you'll be proud of.
Don't miss the "How to Store & Reheat" section below. Fresh bread is very different from store-bought bread with preservatives.
4 cups (500 g) all-purpose / bread flour
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp (7 g sachet) yeast (*see Notes)
2 Tbs olive oil (plus more for topping)
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) water
1 tsp salt
basil oil (blend basil + garlic + olive oil)
ackee + plantain (for my fellow Jamaicans)
Add the flour, sugar and yeast (if you're using instant yeast), to a bowl and whisk together.
Make a well in the center, then add the olive oil and water (if you're using active dry yeast, add the proofed yeast and water mixture).
Mix until everything is almost combined, then add the salt. Mix again until the salt is well distributed and you have a sticky dough. (**see Notes)
Transfer to a large, well-greased bowl and cover to rise in a warm place for 2 hours.
Grease a baking tray with 3-4 Tbs of olive oil and transfer the dough to the center. Spread it out as best as you can, ensuring that it reaches all 4 corners of the tray. Cover and allow to rise for 30 minutes.
Dip the tips of your fingers in some oil, then press them into the dough to make dimples, taking care not to deflate it. Mix 1/4 cup of water with 2 Tbs of olive oil and spoon into the dimples. (You may not need all of it)
Add your favourite toppings (or none if you want a plain focaccia), then sprinkle with some salt and bake in an oven preheated to 200 C or 400 F for 20-25 minutes.
Allow to cool a little, before slicing and serving.
*If you're using active dry yeast, remember to follow the instructions on the package. You'll have to proof the yeast in warm water before.
**Salt is added at this step because if it comes into direct contact with yeast, it may retard its activity and slows the rising of the dough.
HOW TO STORE & REHEAT FOCACCIA
Fresh bread without preservatives doesn't last like sliced bread from the supermarket. It goes rock hard after a few days. If you have left overs, here's how to store and reheat them so that they're as close to "fresh" as possible (nothing beats fresh-out-of-the-oven!)
For the next day
Place the focaccia in an airtight container overnight. Then to reheat, sprinkle some water on the cut edges to rehydrate the bread and place in a toaster oven to warm through.
For more than 1 night
Freeze the focaccia in a sealed bag or container. To reheat, place directly into a toaster oven to warm through. No thawing necessary.