If there’s one thing I haven’t truly mastered in the kitchen, it’s homemade bread. I just haven’t made all that much of it. I can hold my own with pizza dough and no-knead bread, and I did make some damn good challah once, but that’s sort of the extent of my bread-making experience.
If you’re as bread-challenged as me, there’s a simple place you can start if you want to branch out: focaccia bread! Its crusty and dimpled surface coupled with a fluffy, chewy inside is deceptively easy to make, and the best part? You can top it with whatever you can dream up! I love the salty and herby combo of chopped Greek olives, sliced tomato, red onion, parmesan cheese, fresh oregano and lots of black pepper. Give it a whirl and you’ll be amazed at the results! You’ll feel like a bread making pro from way back.
olive focaccia with tomatoes + onion
(yields 8 wedges)
1 3/4 c (203 g) bread flour
1 tsp (6 g) kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp (6 g) granulated sugar
2 1/4 tsp (8 g) active dry yeast
3/4 c (188 g) warm water
1 1/2 T (20 g) olive oil, plus more
for greasing the bowl and pan
1 small roma tomato, sliced thin
a few rings of red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 c (about 16) marinated Greek olives, pitted
and roughly chopped
1/4 c shredded parmesan cheese
2 T fresh oregano, finely chopped
kosher salt + black pepper
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and make sure you have a 10″ round cake pan nearby, cause you’re gonna need it. In a medium bowl, combine the bread flour, salt and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. In a 2-cup capacity measuring cup, measure out the warm water and stir in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar. Stir in the yeast and the olive oil and let the mixture sit until it’s foamy, and has bubbled up to about the 1 1/2 – 2 cup mark. Watch it closely so it doesn’t bubble over the top!
Stir the yeast/water mixture into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon until all the flour is incorporated. Scoop the dough out of the bowl and place it into another bowl that has been coated on the inside with olive oil, turning the dough ball to make sure it’s covered in oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let it sit for 1 to 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled from the original volume.
Grab a 10″ round cake pan and lightly oil the bottom of the pan only, leaving about a 1 inch border on the bottom that does not have oil. Once the dough is risen fully, take it out of the bowl and stretch it to fit in the greased cake pan. The ungreased edges will allow the dough to stick to the sides of the pan and not allow it to keep stretching back in on itself. Let the dough rise in the pan, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, drizzle the top of the dough with more olive oil and dimple the surface with your fingertips. The easiest way I can describe this step is to make your hand into a claw shape with your fingers spread apart, and just start pressing your fingertips into the dough all the way to the bottom of the pan. Don’t be too aggressive cause you don’t want to tear holes in the dough!
Sprinkle on a good amount of salt and black pepper, followed by the oregano and chopped olives. Lay on the tomato slices, followed by the onion and the cheese. Bake in your preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the dough is lightly golden brown on top and springs back when touched in the center of the pan, and the cheese has browned.
Let the bread cool slightly and then lift it out of the pan and slice it into 8 wedges. It’s best eaten fresh and warm from the pan, though it can also be reheated, wrapped in foil, in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. If you have any leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for no more than a week.
This bread is perfectly at home with a big veggie-filled salad or a big plate of pasta, as it is just by itself on a plate for a mid-day snack. The combination of the salty, briny olives goes amazingly well with the mellow tomatoes and bright oregano. I hope this focaccia has made you feel like you can conquer any bread recipe with confidence. It’s easy and oh so good!