250g strong white bread flour
200g-220g lukewarm tap water
3g instant dried yeast
10g caster sugar
30ml olive oil and more for coating
150g olives- pitted
5ml finely chopped garlic
60g feta - broken up
Half a red onion finely chopped
Salty water solution
1. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients. Remember to keep your salt and yeast separate when combing all the ingredients in the bowl. Mix until just combined - do not knead.
2. Proof this dough for 30 minutes and cover the bowl with clingwrap.
3. After 30 minutes, you need to fold the dough over itself. To do so, put some olive oil on your hands. Then take the outer part of the dough that is touching the side of the bowl, stretch it upwards (without breaking the dough) and fold this piece over the dough towards the center. Repeat this for the entire circumference of the dough. So basically you are folding the dough over itself.
4. Then flip the now ball of dough, and try and tuck the dough nicely into a tight ball without punching out any of the air you have created.
5. Proof the dough for 30 minutes, followed by the stretch fold technique again.
6. Repeat step 5 another 2 times. Having proofed a total of FOUR times.
7. After proof number four, line a baking sheet with a generous about of olive oil. Now to convert the dough into the baking sheet from the bowl, gently pull the sides of the dough away from the sides of the bowl, and then tilt the opening of the bowl into the baking sheet so the dough slowly pours out of the bowl and into the baking sheet on its own.
The reason for transferring the dough onto the baking sheet this way, and not by using your hands, is using your hands will puncture all those precious air bubbles you have created.
8. Once the dough has completely poured out of the bowl and into the baking sheet, shape the dough into a rectangle and proof for another 30 minutes.
9. While proofing, prep your olives, red onion and feta. So in a bowl, combine finely chopped red onions, pitted olives, a block of feta broken up into pieces, 15ml olive oil and 5ml finely chopped garlic. Also preheat your oven to 220C. At the same time place an empty tray onto the bottom shelf of your oven, or just next to where your bread will go if you do not have space.
10. When your dough has proofed, drizzle the top of the dough with olive oil. Add some olive oil to your fingertips, and dimple the bread. To do so, use your fingertips to press into the loaf to create dimples.
11. In these dimples, place your garnish.
12. Now in a cup of water, add salt to make it as salty as you wish - this is preference. With your fingers just flick some of this salty water onto your dough to make it slightly damp.
13. Place your uncooked focaccia on the top shelf of the oven and immediately thereafter, pour about a cup and a half of water into that empty tray that has been sitting in the oven.
The importance of this step is that you create steam in the oven which helps the bread rise better, as well as helping to create a beautiful crust and air pockets.
14. Bake for 12-15 minutes and immediately cool on a wire rack when done.