This focaccia is not fussy .This is my favourite Italian flatbread. It’s not very difficult to make. It’s the kind of thing you can get excited about making on a Saturday afternoon and have great fun playing with the toppings. I often throw the ingredients in a food processor, whiz it up then leave it overnight. This bread, along with some lovely salad and cold leftover chicken, would also make a great dinner
2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons dry yeast
4 1/2 cups (about) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
24 black or green brine-cured olives (such as Kalamata or Greek),pitted, halved
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried
Place 2 cups warm water in large bowl. Sprinkle dry yeast over; stir with fork. Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 10 minutes.
Add 4 1/4 cups flour and salt to yeast mixture and stir to blend well (dough will be sticky). Knead dough on floured surface until smooth and elastic, adding more flour by tablespoonfuls if dough is sticky, about 10 minutes. Form dough into ball. Oil large bowl; add dough, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm area until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down dough; knead into ball and return to same bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm area until doubled, about 45 minutes or less
Coat 15x10-inch baking sheet with 2 tablespoon oil. Punch down dough. Transfer to prepared sheet. Using fingertips, press out dough. Let dough rest 10 minutes. Drizzle 2 tablespoons oil over dough. Sprinkle olives and chopped rosemary evenly over. Let dough rise uncovered in warm area until puffy, about 25 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Press fingertips all over dough, forming indentations. Bake bread until brown and crusty, about 20 minutes. Serve bread warm or at room temperature.
Tips on other toppings
Basil & olive oil topping This is the easiest topping and very tasty. Peel and finely chop 1 clove of garlic and a good bunch of fresh basil. Add roughly three times as much olive oil as you have of the basil mixture, a squeeze of lemon juice, some sea salt, black pepper and sometimes a crushed dried red chilli – gives nice warmth! Potato & rosemary topping Wash about 15 new potatoes and slice as thinly as possible. Put into boiling salted (or minty) water for 2 minutes. Drain, place in a bowl, and coat with a generous amount of your best olive oil. Season with sea salt and black pepper, then add 1 peeled, finely chopped clove of garlic and a handful of chopped fresh rosemary leaves. Spread and push the mixture all over the bread. Flick some extra rosemary on top before baking, for a really rustic look. Onion topping I’m a real fried onion boy myself! This topping is tasty, light and fragrant. Peel and halve, from the core to the top, 3 average-sized red onions (or about 6 shallots), then slice as thinly as you can. Heat a frying pan with a good lug of olive oil. Add 1 peeled, finely sliced clove of garlic, a good handful of fresh thyme leaves, and the onions. Add a pinch of sea salt and fry fast, keeping it on the move, for 4 minutes (the idea is to cook fast and caramelize the onions, but not to over-colour or burn them). Next, add about 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar and simmer for a further 4 minutes. Add some salt and black pepper and a little extra virgin olive oil, spread everything over your bread, then throw some extra thyme leaves over it. Looks great!
Cherry tomatoes, fresh basil topping
Pick and roughly chop the basil leaves and halve the tomatoes. Pop the basil and tomatoes into a bowl and season with sea salt and black pepper, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a tiny splash of white wine vinegar. Peel and slice the garlic and mix into the bowl. Place on before letting rise!