A perfect weekend project, this floral focaccia tastes as good as it looks.
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The sight of a focaccia arriving at a dinner table is enough to bring the widest smile to all bread lovers. Best known for its presentation, the Italian focaccia recipe “panis focacius” translates to “hearth bread” and was named after its traditional fireplace cooking method. It was initially considered more of a dipping bread due to its simple ingredients – flour, olive oil, water, yeast, and salt – but focaccias have evolved into a creative outlet for experienced and amateur bakers alike.
Making focaccia is surprisingly simple and once you master this easy focaccia recipe, you can use it as a base for your creativity. Start by placing water, sugar and yeast in a jug and stir to combine. Set this mixture aside until it becomes frothy – about 5 minutes. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour the yeast mixture and olive oil into this well and gently bring the dough together using a whisk. When the dough has formed, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic – it should spring back when pulled. Check the FAQs for how to knead dough. Place the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm, sheltered place for about 1 hour.
When the dough has doubled in size, preheat the oven and grease a 25-by-35 centimetre baking tray. Turn out the dough again onto your floured surface and roll out to the shape of your tray. Transfer the rolled dough to the prepared tray and use the end of a wooden spoon to press dimples into the surface. This reduces the air in the dough to prevent the bread from rising too quickly.
At this point, you can either leave the dough plain or try some focaccia bread art. Whichever you choose, spray the unbaked dough with olive oil and season with salt. Leave in that same warm, draught-free place to rise for 15 more minutes before placing in the preheated oven. Bake for 10 minutes at 200ºC, then reduce heat to 180ºC for the last 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, or place slices under the grill. Toasted focaccia is great for dips like this cashew and rocket or this charred capsicum. You can also use toasted slices to make a focaccia sandwich – try it with a reuben or steak sandwich.
Focaccia art expresses an appreciation for seasonal ingredients, and this floral version with chives is just one example of how focaccia uses produce in a fun way. Once you’ve made the basic dough of a traditional focaccia recipe, you can be as inventive as you like with the focaccia toppings.
The best herbs for focaccia are woody-stemmed ones: rosemary, thyme, marjoram, sage, and oregano. You could also use basil, parsley, and mint, though these more delicate herbs have a tendency to burn. You could also use any of these herbs as focaccia fillings to retain more of their fresher flavour.
Any vegetables that are good for baking will work great on top of focaccia. Tomatoes, onion, capsicum, potatoes, snow peas, zucchini, asparagus, and olives are all great for decorating focaccia. You could also use cheese, eggs, or deli meats – just ensure that all your toppings are thinly and consistently sliced and laid in a single layer for even cooking.
There are endless ways to get experimental with your ingredients for focaccia, whether you’re baking them into or on top of your bread. Try this garlic focaccia with rosemary and potato for a salty, savoury option. For a focaccia with filling as well as decoration, have a go of this stuffed tomato focaccia with olives. It’s a classic flavour combination that always works well, so you can also try this olive and tomato topped focaccia with rocket pesto. One of the best things about focaccia is that it can be eaten any time of the day – just look at this breakfast focaccia with eggs and prosciutto! The best focaccia recipe is the one you enjoy the most, so try it out with your favourite flavours.
Energy: 1233kJ/295 Cals (14%)
Protein: 7g (14%)
Fat: 10g (14%)
Sat fat: 2g (8%)
Carb: 43g (14%)
Sugar: 2g (2%)
Fibre: 3g (10%)
Sodium: 313mg (16%)