Bread Ahead’s lazy focaccia
- March 2022
- Serves 8-10
- Hands-on time 20 min, plus 2 hours 10 min resting
Discover how to make London bakery Bread Ahead’s lazy focaccia. The recipe admittedly starts as a slightly sloppy mix, but with a bit of folding and care ,it becomes a beautifully springy, elastic, pillowy dough.
The dough base can be used with various toppings – fresh herbs, chopped onions, artichoke hearts, tomatoes… Let your imagination run wild.
Recipe from Bread Ahead: The Expert Home Baker by Matthew Jones (Hardie Grant £26).
- 8.7g fat (1.4g saturated)
- 38.5g (0.3g sugars)
- 500g strong white bread flour
- 10g (1 +1⁄2 tsp) fine sea salt
- 6g fresh yeast or 3g (1 tsp) active dried yeast
- 400g water at room temperature
- 80g olive oil, plus extra to brush
- Sea salt flakes, fresh rosemary sprigs or your favourite toppingsUseful to have
- Dough scraper; spray bottle filled with water
- Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, add the yeast to the water and mix until dissolved. If using dried yeast, mix the yeast through the flour mixture.
- Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in the water, then use a spatula, dough scraper, spoon or your hand to bring the dough together to form a loose dough, mixing for a few minutes until all the ingredients are evenly incorporated. If using a stand mixer, use the dough hook attachment to bring the ingredients together. You want a glossy dough with no lumps of flour in it.
- Drizzle 2 tbsp of the olive oil around the edges of the bowl and use a scraper or spoon to gently tease the oil around the edges of the bowl so it’s evenly distributed underneath and over the top of the dough.
- Put your hands under one side of the dough, then pull it up and stretch it over to the other side. Do this from the bottom, then the top, then from each of the two sides (this is considered a single fold and will trap layers of air within the dough). Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
- Give your dough 3 more folds in the same way, resting for 30 minutes after each of the first 2 folds. After the third and final fold, move the dough to the fridge and rest for 10 minutes.
- Lightly oil a large baking tray with some of the remaining oil, then gently slide the rested dough into the prepared baking tray. Fold it in half (like a giant Cornish pasty) and massage the remaining olive oil into the surface of the dough, making sure it’s evenly covered. Press your fingers into the top of the dough to spread it out to fill the tray. Make sure you press over the whole surface of the dough (this will give your focaccia its dimpled appearance).
- Add your toppings (except the salt) and leave to rest for 30 minutes – see Make Ahead.
- When ready to bake, heat the oven to 220°C fan/gas 9 or as hot as it will go. Sprinkle the top of the dough with salt, then transfer to the oven and lightly spray the oven chamber with water or place a baking tray filled with 120ml water on the bottom of the oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until crisp and golden. Remove from the oven, brush with a little more olive oil, then cool and serve.
How to add toppings
The focaccia is superb topped just with salt or added rosemary sprigs, but it’s easy to add flavourings such as fresh or sun-blush cherry tomatoes and green and black olives, as we have on our cover this month. Push some of the ingredients into the dough and leave others on top. And don’t stop there: try charred artichokes, anchovies, goat’s cheese, pickled jalapeños and prosciutto… Whatever combination takes your fancy.
You can ‘hold’ this focaccia for up to 4 hours in the fridge after step 7, which is useful if you want to serve it for an evening meal.
Folding is a technique often used for sourdough, but it’s equally useful with any high hydration (wet) doughs where kneading is difficult. Don’t skip the resting between folds as this is crucial for letting the gluten develop.
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