This week’s food planning included Sumptuous Spoonful’s Cheddar Chilli Chicken and Avocado on Foccacia, so I thought what the hell, let’s make the foccacia too.
This recipe is heavily based on Paul Hollywood’s recipe for foccacia from the Beeb website. It is unusual in that its 80% water and will make a very wet and sticky dough which can be tricky to work. You have to use generous amounts of olive oil to keep it from sticking. The flipside is that the foccacia will turn out very light and fluffy, which is the way I like it.
500g strong bread flour
400ml warm water 100ml hot and 300 ml cold
50ml olive oil
A bit more olive oil to work the dough
Put the flour into a mixing bowl with the salt, olive oil and yeast. Add the water and keep mixing it up with your hand until a wet, sticky and gloopy dough is formed.
Oil your work surface well. You can now either use the slam/fold/scoop method to work the dough, or the method detailed in the video here. Either will work with a bit of practise. You’ll notice the dough getting airy and fluffy as well as a lot more stretchy as you work it, and typically it’ll take about ten minutes.
Oil a mixing bowl and scoop your dough into it. Cover with a shower cap, or stick it in a clean bin bag and leave for two or more hours or until doubled in size.
Oil a baking tray and carefully pour the dough into it. Be gentle. Leave it in a bin bag for another couple of hours or until it doubles in size again and you’re ready for baking. Brush on some olive oil but don’t use too much. You don’t want pools of oil in your dough as it’ll make the foccacia fry when you bake it.
Stick a roasting tin in the bottom of the oven, and set the oven to 220C. When it’s up to temperature, boil about 500ml of water, then pour the boiling water into the roasting tin and then put the baking tray in. Try and do this as quickly as you can so you don’t lose too much of that precious heat.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until the foccacia has risen and is nicely brown.
Put the baking tray on a wire rack to cool. If it hasn’t stuck, the foccacia should just fall out of the tray with very little persuasion.
Things I’ve found
If you have pools of oil in your baking tray, the bit of the foccacia nearest to it will fry as it bakes, and that part will taste almost like fried bread. It’s nice if you like it but if you want a fluffy loaf its something you’ll want to avoid.
I’m not sure if the steam in the oven helps as there is already so much moisture in the dough, but it was used when my best foccacia came out of the oven.. So if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
It’s very difficult to dot a dough that wet, and I’ve not figured out a way to do it properly yet.