A herb-infused oil is the special touch in this Italian bread.
- 900 g flour
- 25 g salt, plus a little extra for herb oil
- 25 g yeast
- 25 g honey
- 600 ml water, luke warm
- 1 garlic clove
- 3 rosemary sprigs
- 100 ml oil
- sea salt
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Rising time: One and a half hours in total
In a large bowl, sieve the flour and salt then make a well in the centre. In the well add the honey, yeast and warm water. With your fingers, dissolve the yeast and water together. Once it is dissolved, start to incorporate the flour. Keep doing this until a dough is formed.
Next, knead the dough for about 5 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Once this is done, form the dough into a ball shape. With 1 tablespoon of oil, pat the dough with the oil on your hands - this will stop the dough from drying out. Then cover the bowl of dough with cling film.
Let the dough sit for about 1 hour; this time may vary depending on how hot your kitchen is.
While the dough is proving, make the herb oil for the top of the focaccia. Begin by placing in a mortar and pestle 1 garlic clove and a small pinch of salt. Pound the garlic, adding a sprig of rosemary. Repeat this until the herb is lightly broken up, as this will allow the flavour to release. Then add the extra virgin olive oil to the herb mix and set aside for the moment.
Once the dough has about doubled in size, we knead the dough one more time - this time only for about 1 minute as you don’t want to over work the dough at this stage. When it is kneaded, form a ball with the dough and place it on a floured bench. Now you can roll it to fit your baking tray. It will fit into a tray approximately 45 cm by 30 cm. You will need to cover the dough again with 1 tablespoon of oil so it will not dry out and again leave it to prove; this should take 30-45 min.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
Before we put the bread it the oven, place the herb oil over the top and spread the herbs around evenly. Push your fingers into the dough - this is what will give the dough the characteristic markings. Spray the bread with water as this will stop the herbs from burning. Lastly sprinkle with sea salt and bake in the oven for 35 minutes.
When the bread comes out of the oven, place it on a cooling rack to stop it from steaming in the tray. Drizzle the focaccia with a little more oil and it is ready to eat!