So delicious and so economical, focaccia bread is perfect for a picnic or easy lunch. It’s really versatile, too, in terms of the different ingredients you can add.

Serves
10-12

Preparation

20min

Cooking

30min

Skill level

Easy
By
Average: 5 (1 vote)
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Ingredients

Focaccia Base

  • 435 ml (15 fl oz/1¾ cups) warm water
  • 2 tsp active dried yeast (1 × 7 g sachet)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 675 g (1½ lb/4½ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tbsp salt, plus coarse sea salt and pepper, for sprinkling
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 small handful rosemary leaves

Asparagus- and mozzarella-topped

  • 2 bunches asparagus, shaved using a vegetable peeler
  • 200 g (7 oz) mozzarella or bocconcini, roughly sliced
  • 1 large handful mint, chopped
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 4 tbsp pine nuts

Antipasto-stuffed

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 110 g (4 oz/½ cup) roughly chopped marinated artichoke hearts
  • 155 g (5½ oz/1 cup) pitted olives, roughly chopped
  • 160 g (5½ oz/1 cup) roughly chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 large handful herbs, such as basil, rosemary, oregano, parsley and/or thyme, chopped

Cook's notes

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.

Instructions

Rising time: 50 minutes

Cooking times will depend on which version you make. 

 

For plain focaccia:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the warm water, yeast and sugar. Leave the bowl in a warm place for about 10 minutes, until the mixture is bubbling.
  2. Add the flour, salt and olive oil. Stir with a fork until the mixture comes together as a dough. Dump onto a floured surface and knead for about 5–8 minutes, until soft and elastic. Transfer to a clean bowl and drizzle on some more olive oil. Cover with a clean cloth and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes, or until doubled in size; the rising time will depend on the level of heat and humidity.
  3. Pour a large glug of olive oil onto two baking trays and add the risen dough. Stretch the dough to fit the trays, add a sprinkling of salt, and scatter the rosemary over the top. Leave to rise again for another 20 minutes or so.
  4. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Before baking, press finger holes all through the dough, pushing the rosemary in.
  5. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden and cooked through.

 

For asparagus- and mushroom-toppped focaccia:

  1. Make the plain dough as directed above and shape into two focaccias. After the dough has risen a second time, bake the focaccias for 15 minutes.
  2. While the focaccias are in the oven, combine all the topping ingredients in a bowl, along with cracked pepper to taste.
  3. After 15 minutes of baking, or when the bread is beginning to colour, remove the focaccias from the oven and scatter the topping over them, pressing it in slightly with your hands.
  4. Bake for a further 10 minutes, or until the cheese is golden and melted and the bread is cooked through.

 

For antipasto-stuffed focaccia:

  1. Make the plain focaccia dough, kneading it together as directed and leaving it in the bowl for its first rising.
  2. While you’re waiting for the dough to rise, heat a large frying pan with the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over medium heat for 5–10 minutes, or until caramelised and translucent. Add all the remaining ingredients to the pan, along with a sprinkling of salt and cracked pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes, then set the mixture aside.
  3. Once the dough has doubled in size, use your hands to knock out the air. Pour the antipasto mixture into the bowl. Use your hands to massage the mixture so the antipasto spreads throughout the dough evenly.
  4. Shape into two focaccias, leave to rise a second time, then bake as directed in the plain focaccia recipe.

 

Recipe and images from The Shared Table by Clare Scrine, Smith Street Books, RRP $39.99