Whole Grain Focaccia with Mixed Olives & White Onion
I love a classic focaccia, simply seasoned with rosemary and coarse sea salt. There's something just wonderful about the soft consistency and the smell of olive oil!
But another absolute favourite is this version, which happens to be vegan, topped with mixed olives and caramelised onions - the perfect mix of tanginess from the olives and sweetness from the caramelised onions.
Focaccia (Italian pronunciation: [foˈkattʃa]; Ligurian: fugassa [fuˈɡasa]) is a flat oven-baked Italian bread not dissimilar in style and texture to pizza; so much so that in some places it is called pizza bianca (lit. white pizza). Focaccia can be served to accompany any vegetable or meat dishes, or as sandwich bread.
For this version, I used mainly wholegrain flour. I sometimes substitute this with spelt flour, or even wholegrain spelt flour. Spelt is simply a kind of wheat, considered to be an ancient grain and, as such, it has very similar (nearly identical) characteristics of regular all purpose flour when kneading, which means you can replace it in most recipes without having to adjust the quantities and proportions with water.
Ingredients (for 6-8)
For the dough:
400g wholegrain flour
100g strong white bread flour
9g fresh brewer's yeast (or substitute with 3g dry yeast)
350ml lukewarm water 350ml
50ml extra virgin olive oil
For the topping:
190g mixed pitted green and black olives
1 large white onion, sliced thinly
30ml extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Dried oregano and/or rosemary (I used both)
Dissolve yeast in water and wait 5 minutes until the water becomes frothy.
In the meantime, mix white and wholewheat in a large bowl. Start adding the water-yeast mixture in batches, alternating it with the olive oil.
As soon as the flour is incorporated, transfer to a floured surface and knead energetically for no less than 10 minutes, pulling the dough up from the counter and slapping it back onto it. This process, albeit tiring, is very important as it helps develop the gluten, which in turn will give your focaccia its characteristic bubbles and make it lighter.
Allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes, then add the salt, dissolved in a tbsp of water, and knead again to a smooth dough.
Oil a bowl and transfer the dough to it. Cover with a damp cloth and let it stand for about 10 minutes. At this point, start giving the first folds by gently pulling the outer edges of the dough and bringing them towards the centre. Repeat this every 20 minutes for a total of 4 times. This will allow the dough to develop strength so it’s a super important step!
Next, cover the bowl with cling wrap or a kitchen towel, and allow it to rise in a warm dry place for 2 hours. It should double in volume.
When the dough is ready, transfer it to an oiled baking tray - you’ll notice that it’s become super stretchy and bubbly by this time.
Drizzle the remaining oil, add the onions, pitted olives, and oregano. Let is rest while you pre-heat the oven to 220C. When the oven has reached the temperature, bake for 25 minutes.