Basil and Garlic Focaccia
A flatbread from Italy, focaccia dough is soft, sticky and, for first-timers, notoriously difficult to handle. But with patience and practice, it's doable at home.
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and yeast. Make a well in the center and pour in the water.
- Mix the dry ingredients with the water, slowly, using your fingers, until the mixture looks uniform.
- Cover the bowl with cling film and let the dough rise until triple in volume, about two to two and a half hours.
- Sprinkle flour on the work surface. Dump in the dough. Yes, it will be very sticky but don’t add more flour. Just keep the surface and your hands well-oiled at all times.
- Using your fingers, gently pull the dough outward to flatten it into a square.
- Now imagine that the dough is of three portions. Lift ⅓ from the side nearest you and fold inward. Do the same with the ⅓ portion farthest from you.
- Now, fold in the the sides on your left and right. You have a square once again.
- Transfer the dough to the bowl once again, cover and let rise for 30 minutes.
- Repeat the folding and rising process.
- Pour about ¾ of the olive oil into a baking pan. Make sure that the bottom and sides are oiled.
- Dump the dough into the pan. Pour the rest of the oil over the dough.
- Cover the dough with cling film. Poke and push the dough outward to flatten it and fill the entire bottom of the pan.
- Sprinkle the basil and garlic on the dough. Sprinkle in more salt as well.
- Cover the pan with cling film and allow the dough to rise for another half an hour.
- Fifteen minutes before the rising time of the dough is up, preheat the oven to 450F and position the rack on the lower third.
- Bake the focaccia for 25 minutes.
- Scoop out the focaccia with a large spatula, move to a rack and pour the oil from the pan over the bread.
- When the focaccia is cool enough to handle, you can slice it.
- The focaccia is great by itself or you can pair it with pasta.
Based on a recipe in Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.
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