On the third day of Breadmas my Baker gave to me, Herby Focaccia! Focaccia is one of my favourite types of flatbread. I usually aim to make it to use for something special, and end up just eating it dipped in oil and sprinkled with sea salt. This one takes a bit more time than our first two Breadmas breads, but the flavour is totally worth it.Jump to Recipe
For a long time when I would make Focaccia, it was essentially just bread dough that I baked flat. Drizzled with oil and that was it. Now of course that’s fine, but it wasn’t ever super interesting bread. And standard bread dough doesn’t really have the right texture for focaccia. It wasn’t until I worked in a bakery that I ended up learning and using techniques that make this recipe so good.
Poolish is a great word isn’t it? Unfortunately every baker I’ve worked with has a different story about where the word comes from. The most commonly used story seems to be that a Polish gent named Baron Zang came up with the technique and brought it to Austria, then through to France. And the technique of creating a leavening agent by mixing water, flour and some yeast, became known as poolish. Deriving from the French Pouliche, and then morphed into English. This story seems just confusing enough to be the origin of an English word, so it’s what I’ve stuck with. But this is widely debated, and I’m no historian!
But, the poolish is the pre ferment mixture that gives this particular focaccia it’s depth of flavour. Mixed up and left to sit for 24hrs, gives it plenty of time to ripen. It’s not really a sourdough, since the flavour isn’t sour exactly, just more mature.
Stretching the Focaccia
Once your dough has been folded and has had time to rise, it’s time to stretch it out. This is done right on the baking tray. Drizzle the baking tray with plenty of olive oil. Scrape your dough onto it, and drizzle the dough with more oil.
Then, get right in there with your hands. Start by pressing and pulling the dough out into an oblong shape.
Then begin stretching each corner.
By firmly pressing your fingers into the dough you get the right amount of stretch, as well as creating lots of deep holes that oil can pool into.
Then you’re ready to bake! Check the focaccia about a quarter of the way through the baking, to make sure that it isn’t puffing up too much. You can carefully, deepen the holes early in the baking process. And when it’s done, drizzle with more oil, and sprinkle with some flakey sea salt.
The Herb de Provence that I use in this recipe is my own mix, and it really goes beautifully with the fruity olive oil and flakey salt.
Don’t forget to go back and check out the first two days of Breadmas and of course stick around for the next 9!
Day 1: Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
Day 2: Cinnamon Raisin Bread
Herb de Provence Focaccia
- Kitchen Scale
- Baking Sheet
- 250 g Bread Flour
- 250 g Water warm
- 1/2 g Dry Active Yeast about 1/8 tsp
- 250 g Bread Flour
- 125 g Water warm
- 10 g Salt Koscher
- 2 1/2 Tbsp Herbes de Provence Link above to my Personal Mix
- All of the Poolish
- Olive Oil for drizzling
- The day before you want to bake, in the morning, mix the poolish. Combine the flour, water and yeast in a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in a warm place for 24 hrs.
- On the day you want to bake, combine the Flour, Salt and Herbs in a bowl.
- Pour the water into the bowl with the poolish to help loosen it from the edges. Then scrape all of it in to the flour. Mix together with your hand. Throughout the mixing process, wetting your hand can help lessen the sticking. Pinch the dough into several pieces and then fold them over themselves a few times. Repeat the pinching and folding for about 6 minutes. You wont feel the salt granules anymore. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.
- Only folding this time; Go around the outside of the dough, stretch the side up and over, up and over, up and over, as you go around the outside. This should only take about a minute. The cover and rest for another 20 minutes. Repeat the folding again. Cover.
- This time let the dough rest for another 4-5 hours, or until more than doubled in size.
- Heat the oven to 425F, and drizzle a baking sheet with olive oil.
- Gently transfer the dough out of the bowl and onto the greased baking sheet. Trying to not let out too much air, stretch the dough out to a rough rectangle. Drizzle the dough with olive oil. Then using your finger tips, press deeply into the dough and massage it out to fill the baking sheet. The dough should have a lot of holes, nooks and crannies for the oil to pool into.
- Bake for about 18-20 minutes, rotating once in the middle. The dough should be crisp, and golden all over. Remove from the oven, drizzle with more oil and sprinkle with flaked salt. Serve right away with dipping oils, or cheeses. Cool the bread fully before storing in a sealed bag. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, and in the freezer for up to 2 months.