Yep, I’ve mastered it. Soft, pillowy Focaccia. With patience only. And water, flour, yeast and salt. And loooots of olive oil.
The secret here is pretty much the poolish, and lots of time allowed to rest. If you don’t know what poolish is, is a very wet dough, allowed to rest beforehand which will become the base for your final dough.
Add a pack of dried yeast with a tsp of sugar, half a cup of lukewarm water and half a cup of flour. Mix well with the help of a spatula until you get a smooth paste, cover it with a towel and allow it to rest for 15-20 minutes or until its doubled in size. The sugar here helps giving that yeast a kick start and the lukewarm water will provide the perfect ground for it. Make sure the water is not hot, otherwise your yeast will die.
So yeah, you got it. For the poolish you’ll need:
- 1 pack of dry yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 cup lukewarm water
- 1/2 cup flour
For the final dough you’ll need:
- 1/2 cup of lukewarm water
- 2 – 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- once the poolish is doubled in size, add the rest of the water in, salt and flour and mix it on low until everything is incorporated. If you don’t own a fancy stand mixer (like I don’t), add those spiral shaped beaters to your regular hand mixer that you never knew what’s the use of and you’ll do just fine;
- the dough you’ll get will be a sticky one, so don’t panic – add enough flour until your finger doesn’t stick to the dough when you touch it;
- add the olive oil and mix until everything is incorporated;
- allow the dough to rest for an hour;
- once the hour is up, add the dough on a oiled surface, mold it into a rectangular shape with your oily hands (again need to state, the dough is sticky and can be a little frustrating while handling BUT that stickiness will give you those air bubbles in the final bread;
- fold the rectangular you just made on the long side, bringing the sides to the center; fold the extremes into the center too and you’ll get a folded square;
- add it back to the bowl, and allow it to rest for another hour;
- prepare a baking sheet, or the pan where will you be baking your focaccia;
- add some corn flour to it, or olive oil;
- add the dough and shape it again in a rectangular shape;
- brush it with olive oil, cover it in plastic wrap and allow it to rest for another 20-30 minutes;
- uncover the dough, sprinkle a generous amount of olive oil and poke it with your fingers;
- add the toppings of your choice – I went with sea salt rosemary and leek roasted peppers for mine, you can also use onions, feta cheese, olives, cherry tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, just be creative!
- bake at 180° C for 20 min or until golden;
- when done, sprinkle more olive oil on top.
Needless to say, enjoy it warm dipped in (guess what) more olive oil, or with some mortadella.