Tuscan Focaccia bread is not British I hear you cry. No, traditionally it is not. What it is though is a much-loved bread here in the British Isles and in Ireland. The soft, round loaf actually comes from Italy and more commonly, from Tuscany – where it is also known as Schiaciatta.
Focaccia first came to Britain in the ’60s and has remained here ever since. Sadly, there are variations of the traditional Tuscan Foccacia, some so far removed from this traditional recipe; some are puffed up like a sponge cake, others as flat as a pancake. A traditional loaf should be light and airy the and the crumb soft and will rarely rise when cooked beyond 6-7cm.
I love this traditional finish with just the best olive oil I can find used liberally in the loaf and finished with a good sprinkle of Maldon or similar salt flakes. You can, if you wish to sprinkle on a few rosemary needles, shredded sage, or even a good crumbled up Gorgonzola.
375 g strong bread flour
1 ½ teaspoons table salt
1 ½ tablespoons dried easy-blend yeast
2 tablespoons good quality Extra Virgin olive oil
200 ml tepid water
For the Topping
4 – 6 tablespoons good quality Extra Virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sea salt flakes
Time for Your Tuscan Focaccia:
Prep: 20 minutes, Proving Time: 2 hours, Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Mix and Knead
Use a mixer or food processor with a dough blade. Add all the ingredients except the water and mix to combine.
Add half the water and raise the speed and mix until you have a soft smooth dough. Keep adding water if the mixture is dry, it should be slightly sticky. Mixing can take up to 5 – 7 minutes.
- Leave to Prove
Tip the dough into a lightly oiled baking bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm (not hot) place for an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Shape and Prove
Remove the dough from the bowl. Lay onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper and lightly flatten and shape into a loose rectangle or circle. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for another hour. The dough should rise by roughly 5 cm.
Heat the oven to 220°C/200°Fan
Remove the cover from the dough, gently press into the dough with your fingertips to create pockets. Drizzle with the olive oil making sure it slips into the pockets. Sprinkle with the sea salt.
Bake in the centre of the oven until beautifully risen and sounds hollow when tapped on the base, about 20 minutes.
Leave to cool on a rack and eat as soon as you can, always best the day it is made but the Tuscan focaccia will keep well if wrapped well and stored in a bread bin or airtight box