Foccacia is essentially a large slab of bread baked with lots of savoury Mediterranean flavours both in and out of the dough. Herbs, cheese, olives. Tasty.
Yield: Makes 4-6 servings
1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons yeast
3 cups all purpose or bread flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
24 calamata style black olives, pitted
Pour the water into the bowl of a stand up mixer fitted with a dough hook and sprinkle in the yeast. Add 1 cup of the flour and the sugar then stir to combine. Let rest for ten minutes or so, until the yeast activates and bubbles appear on surface.
Add the rest of the flour, salt, olive oil, pepper, thyme and olives and mix well until dough begins to form a ball. Continue kneading for a few minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place in a large, oiled bowl, cover with a towel, and rest in a warm place until the dough doubles, about 1 hour.
Lightly oil your hands then knock down the dough, pressing the air out of it. Knead a few times and then place dough onto an oiled baking sheet. Pull and press dough across pan until if forms a large, flattened circle and vigorously poke dimples into it with your fingertips. Drizzle with olive oil, coarse salt and pepper and let rise a second time until it doubles again, about 30 minutes.
While you wait preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place in oven and bake until it has formed a golden crust, but is still soft in the centre, about 10-15 minutes.
This is the recipe my mother uses every year at Christmas time to make a cardamom scented sweetbread. To this day, every time I smell cardamom I think of my mom. It's a blast from the past, a household tradition, all because of a friendly neighbour from my childhood who shared this recipe with me. I of course gave it to my mom to make for me.
Nowadays she makes it in a bread machine, which handles the mixing, kneading and first rising steps. The dough can then be braided and baked as per the recipe. The traditional braiding step makes a beautiful loaf, but isn't necessary. You can form a traditional loaf by rolling it into a log and placing it in a lightly greased loaf pan before baking.