This classic focaccia recipe by Great British Bake Off star, Paul Hollywood, is simple, delicious and extremely versatile.
Tear up and dip this focaccia into a good olive oil and balsamic, load with delicious cheese and ham, or dunk into summer dips like hummus, tzatziki or taramasalata. A well-baked focaccia is made from quite a wet dough which, after kneading and proving, is left full of the bubbles, that will create a light, sponge-like texture.
However, to stop the bread collapsing, it is important to reduce the air content. This is done by creating the dimples, that gives focaccia its unique character. Dimpling can be done with wet fingers, or by poking indents with the oiled handle of your wooden spoon.
- 140ml olive oil, plus extra for kneading and to finish
- 500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 360ml cool water
- 10g salt
- 10g instant yeast
- Fine semolina for dusting (optional)
- Dried oregano
- Flaky sea salt
- Lightly oil a 2–3 litre square plastic container. (Make sure you use a square tub as it helps shape the dough.)
- Tip the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt to the other.
- Add three-quarters of the water and 40ml of olive oil, and turn the mixture round with your fingers. Continue to add water, a little at a time, until you’ve picked up all the flour from the sides of the bowl. You may not need to add all the water, or you may need to add a little more. You want your dough to be very soft – wetter than a standard bread dough. Use the mixture to clean the inside of the bowl and keep going until the mixture forms a rough dough.
- Coat the work surface with some of the remaining olive oil, then tip the dough onto it and begin to knead. Knead for around 5–10 minutes. Work through the initial wet stage until the dough starts to form a soft, smooth skin. (It's best to avoid adding any more flour as it is supposed to have a wet, sticky consistency.)
- When your dough feels soft and elastic, put the dough into the oiled tub. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise until at least doubled in size – about 1 hour.
- Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment and drizzle with olive oil.
- Put more olive oil on the work surface and dust with fine semolina if you have some. Carefully tip the dough onto the surface. Handle the dough very gently so you keep as much air in it as possible. Divide the dough in half. Stretch each piece out to a flat, even piece and place on a baking tray.
- Put each tray into a clean plastic bag and leave to prove for about 1 hour, until the dough is doubled in size and springs back quickly if you prod it lightly with your finger.
- Meanwhile, heat your oven to 220˚C/425˚F/Gas Mark 7.
- Use your fingers to make deep dimples in the focaccia, pushing them all the way through the dough to the bottom. Drizzle each focaccia with olive oil and sprinkle with a little flaky sea salt and oregano, then bake for 15 minutes, or until cooked through.
- Tap the bottom of the focaccia and you should hear a hollow sound. Trickle with more olive oil, then cool on a wire rack.
Top tip for making Paul Hollywood's focaccia
The dough is really wet so you might prefer to make it in a mixer – although a focaccia is a good bread to make by hand if you're trying to learn, as it's easier to handle then other breads like, ciabatta.
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Paul Hollywood is best known for being a judge on Channel 4’s baking competition ‘The Great British Bake Off.’ Although he’d originally trained as a sculptor, Paul’s father - who was also a baker - managed to persuade him to join the family business. And thank goodness he did. Paul went on to become one of the best artisan bakers in the country working at some of the most prestigious hotels in London including The Dorchester and The Grosvenor.
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