Workday lunches: Foccacia


It's hard to find a good workday lunch that doesn't cost me $7 and taste like crap (yes that was directed at you, every hospital cafeteria ever). I've taken to experimenting with my own, with a few requirements:

  1. It should be quick to prepare the night before, or able to be made in bulk
  2. It should be relatively inexpensive — I would love to eat a chicken, avocado, and sundried tomato sandwich every day, but for now I have to be sensible
  3. The ingredients or bulk item should keep well for 5 days
  4. It should travel well — no fondue
  5. It has to taste good — I might be cheap and lazy when it comes to lunches, but I'm not about to eat canned ravioli

This focaccia recipe is based on Jamie Oliver's recipe from Jamie's Kitchen. I've added olive oil to the dough to improve its shelf life, and decreased the sugar and salt in his recipe — not for health reasons, just because the recipe needs it. These will take any topping you like, just be mindful that if you put things like cheese on too early they'll burn before the bread is cooked. My topping was simply canned tomatoes pureed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme, then toped with grated mozarella and basil leaves.

The basic focaccia recipe is after the jump. To help you I've made a video of me making the dough:

Basic focaccia recipe

  • 500 g plain flour
  • 315 ml lukewarm water
  • 15 g dried yeast
  • 8 g sugar
  • 10 g salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

1. Stir the yeast and sugar into the water and let it stand for a few minutes until bubbles start to appear.
2. Combine this mixture with the flour, salt and olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Stir it together with a wooden spoon, then either knead the dough in an electric mixer with a dough hook, or turn it out onto a bench and knead by hand. Knead until you have medium gluten development, as described here.
3. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place (an oven that has been turned on for 5 minutes then off again is perfect) for 40 minutes.
4. Preheat your oven to 220ºC/425ºF. Meanwhile knead the dough again, then roll it out to roughly fit a 34 x 23 cm (13 x 9 inches) baking tray. It doesn't need to be perfect, and remember that the dough will enlarge and it rises. Cover and rest in a warm place for another 40 minutes (obviously don't rest it in a preheating oven).

Foccacia, risen

5. Pull the risen dough gently to fit the tray, then prod it a few times with your finger to make small indentations. Add your topping, then bake for 20 minutes or until the edges are golden.

My impression? Very easy to make, and with a good topping it can taste quite good. The bread itself however is nothing to write home about — it's reminds me a lot of a Pizza Hut pizza base. I plan to work on this some more, and and any suggestions for a more rustic foccacia dough would be very welcome.

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