We have spent six months a year in Umbria the past ten years, and while we are in Italy, I make focaccia at least once a week. I share it with our farmhouse rental guests, my husband enjoys nibbling on it as a snack, and it is great cut into small squares on an antipasti tray when friends stop by. We have been back in North America over three months already, and for some reason, I just do not make focaccia as often as I do when we are in Italy.
I recently realized that I hadn’t made focaccia for a couple of months when my husband asked if we had any left in the freezer. When I make focaccia, I cut it into squares once it has cooled, and then freeze at least half of the pan this way wrapped in aluminum foil, then stored in airtight bags. This way, it is always available for my husband to pull out a couple of squares from the freezer when he is craving a snack, or if I want to make a couple of sandwiches with it. Focaccia thaws out in mere minutes, so it is a great bread to have on hand. My favorite recipe for focaccia is my basic Rosemary Focaccia because it is so versatile, but I do get bored making the same recipe over and over again. Last week, I decided to surprise my husband with some freshly baked focaccia, and along with folding in finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes into the dough, I studded the top with flavorful Kalamata olives. This focaccia was so tasty that only a few pieces managed to make it into the freezer before it was gobbled up!
I use only SAS brand yeast for my bread baking as it is instant yeast that doesn’t require proofing first, and I’ve always had excellent results with it. I’ve experimented with a variety of different types of flour for my focaccia but found all-purpose gives me the texture I like in my focaccia. Do use sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil for this recipe as they have more flavor than the dried ones in a bag, and are much softer. Kalamata olives are readily available and are full of flavor. Please do not use the canned black olives that have no taste.
Deborah Mele 2018
- 6 Cups All-purpose Unbleached Flour
- 1 Tablespoon Instant Active Dry Yeast (I Use SAS Brand)
- 2 – 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Plus 2 Additional Tablespoons To Oil Bowl)
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 3/4 Cup Sun-Dried Tomatoes Packed In Oil, Drained
- 2 1/2+ Cups Warm Water
- 1/4 Cup Olive Oil, Divided, Plus Extra For Drizzling
- Coarse Sea Salt
- 1 Cup Pitted Kalamata Olives, Halved
- Place the sun-dried tomatoes in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. (Or chop finely with a sharp knife)
- Measure and assemble your flour, oil, salt, yeast, tomatoes, and water.
- Add everything but the water into a large bowl and stir.
- Add half the water and stir.
- Continue to add enough water for the dough begins to come together into a shaggy ball.
- Dump the dough mixture onto a lightly floured surface and begin to knead with the heels of your hand.
- Knead for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and pliant.
- Add a little oil (2 tablespoons) to the bottom of a large bowl and place your ball of dough inside.
- Roll the ball of dough around in the oil ensuring the sides of the bowl and ball of dough are both lightly oiled.
- Cover your bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise. (I cover mine with a kitchen towel on top of the plastic wrap and sit it on a large sunny windowsill.)
- Generous oil a large sheet pan with a 1-inch side.
- Dump your risen dough into the pan punching it down to deflate it.
- Press the dough with your fingers to fit into the pan.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Place the olives evenly over the top of the dough.
- Drizzle about the olive oil over the top of the dough, and sprinkle with a teaspoon of sea salt.
- Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.
- Cool 15 minutes, then cut into squares and enjoy!