I learned to make focaccia from Marco Casentini and learned about really getting the feel for dough and not being hung up on measuring. I used to watch Jamie Oliver on TV (Naked Chef days) and he really didn’t measure when making dough either. I think this is important so that you understand what is going on with the process and can get success everytime. So this recipe will not have precise measuring although I’ll give some as a starting point.
Start with getting a glass of warm water. I take it right out of the tap – should be on the hotter side but comfortable when your hand is under the water. You want it warm enough for the yeast to be active but not too hot where you kill it.
Add 1 tablespoon of sugar to the water then 1 tablespoon of dry active yeast. The sugar acts as food for the yeast and will get it going. Then start with around 2-1/2 cups of flour and add the liquid. I then use a spoon the mix it together. You can tell if you need more flour. Just keep sprinkling it in until the consistency starts to become in-between of being too wet but don’t go too dry.
Get your hands into it and start to really work it. I use my thumbs to push the dough in the center and then use my fingers to roll it up. I also keep turning the dough at the same time by continuously folding and turning and pushing the dough into itself. Add more flour as needed. The dough should start getting very elastic and not stick to your fingers. If it is still too wet it will stick to the bowl and fingers. Just keep sprinkling in flour and keep working it for around 10 minutes.
When the dough feels right it won’t stick to your fingers and won’t flake from being too dry. You can then take it out of the bowl and continue to work with it. Form a ball and keep patting it around and around. It should feel very elastic. It reminds me of working with clay… but this yeast ball is alive! It is not sticky but very smooth and almost hollow sounding when you pat it. This is the best part. It really feels good to get a nice lively ball of dough.
Sprinkle some flour on the bottom of the bowl and put the ball of dough back in. Put a cloth over it and put into a dark warm place. I usually use the cupboard or the unheated oven. Let it sit for around an hour to rise. After an hour, take the ball out of the bowl and squeeze it all around again to compress back into a round ball. Pre-heat the oven on to 350 degrees.
Coat the bottom of a baking sheet with olive oil. Put the dough on top and with oiled hands, press the dough flat across the sheet. It will be elastic but keep working it out towards the corners.
Some people use their fingers but I just take the end of a wooden spoon and press holes into the dough across the entire dough. This will give a nice texture and allow areas for the salt and olive oil to go into (which will be added next).
This is where you can get creative. I use fresh rosemary and sprinkle it across the entire area. I also generously sprinkle coarse rock sea salt and thinly sliced onion followed by drizzling olive oil across everything.
Put into a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for around 8-10 minutes. The focaccia will rise up and get brown on the bottom. I then switch the oven to broil and put it close to the coils on top. You have to really watch it at this point as it will quickly get brown. You don’t want to burn it. I also rotate the pan around to evenly brown the entire face.
Take it out when done and transfer to a wooden cutting board. I use a pizza rotary cutter to cut into squares. Serve and enjoy immediatly. The aroma of the rosemary and baked focaccia is just great! Put extras (if you have any) into an airtight container. Cold focaccia like cold pizza is also yummy! Speaking of pizza, I use this same dough but roll it out flatter and use a pizza stone in the oven for great pizza!