Focaccio (Italian Bread)

Focaccio is a healthy Italian bread.


serves 6
4 cups (1 lb) 450 g white unbleached plain flour
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cup (1/2 pint) 300 ml warm water
1/2 oz (10 g) fresh yeast or 1/2 sachet dried yeast
1 pinch sugar
1 teaspoon salt
rosemary or sage, fresh or dried


1. To make the dough, put the yeast in a bowl with a little of the warm water and mash with a fork until it looks like mud.

2. Add a pinch of sugar, leave it for 10 minutes and it will go frothy.

3. Meanwhile put the rest of the water, the flour, a little of the salt and the olive oil into a large bowl.

4. When the yeast is frothy, add that too. Knead it with your hands if you want to let off steam, or mix it in a food processor - most have a special attachment for mixing dough.

5. Leave in the bowl in a warm place for about 30 minutes. It will double in size. Take the dough out, put it on a big board, cut in half and spread it a bit so you have two pieces the size of dinner plates.

6. Sprinkle the rest of the salt over the top, then the rosemary or sage, and pat them into the dough.

7. Put the loaves into a hot oven at 200°C (400°F) gas mark 7 for approximately 20 minutes.

8. The bread rises marginally; it is meant to be about half an inch or 1 cm thick and pale golden on the top.

9. Do not let it go dark brown - it will go rock hard!

10. You can eat it warm straight out of the oven.

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