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A step-by-step guide to making focaccia

Recipes

This recipe for focaccia bread comes from new cookbook The Complete Guide to Baking.

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Written by French pastry chef and baker Rodolphe Landemaine, who owns 12 bakeries in Paris, the book features recipes for a range of breads, pastries, gateaux and biscuits, as well as advice about different types of ingredients, equipment and techniques.

In the introduction to this recipe, he explains that the difference between focaccia and ciabatta is that focaccia contains no sourdough, “so its aromatic notes are less acidic. The fermentation time for focaccia is shorter, which gives it a less airy texture.”

Focaccia

Characteristics

Weight: 200g
Size: about 20cm × 15cm
Crumb: honeycombed
Crust: very thin, soft

Time to make
Preparation: 20 minutes
Fermentation: 2 hours 30 minutes (1 hour of pointage, 30 minutes resting, 1 hour proving)
Baking: 10 minutes

Equipment
Electric mixer with dough hook (optional)
Dough cutter
Pastry brush
Pastry rolling pin

Tricky aspect
Not tearing the dough.

Techniques to master
Kneading
Rabat (folding)
Pre-shaping into a ball

They’re ready …
When the focaccias are lightly browned and still very moist.

Storage
The dough will keep, wrapped in plastic wrap, for 24 hours in the refrigerator.

Makes 2

Ingredients

Dough
190g T65 strong flour
140g water
4g salt
6g fresh baker’s yeast
35g potato starch

Flavouring
2g mixed herbs (herbes de Provence)
25g olive oil

To finish
5g olive oil

Method

1 Knead the flour, water, salt, crumbled yeast, potato starch and mixed herbs using an electric mixer for 4 minutes at the lowest speed, then 6 minutes at medium speed. The dough should pull away from the side of the bowl.

2 Continue to knead at the lowest speed while adding the olive oil in a thin stream until it is all completely incorporated.

3 Transfer the dough to a round-bottomed bowl. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to undergo pointage (the first rise) for 30 minutes in a warm place (25–28C).

4 Make a rabat (ie fold the dough back on itself to kick-start fermentation). Return to the bowl, cover with the tea towel and leave to undergo pointage for a further 30 minutes in a warm place (25–28C).

5 Divide the dough into two 200g pieces using a dough cutter. Pre-shape each piece into a ball, pulling tight.

6 Place the dough pieces on a sheet of baking paper, cover with the tea towel and leave to rest for 30 minutes in a warm place (25–28C).

7 Using a rolling pin, roll each dough piece into a 20cm × 15cm rectangle about 2cm thick.

8 Cover with the tea towel. Leave to prove for about 1 hour in a warm place (25–28C).

9 Place a baking sheet and a heatproof bowl filled with water in the oven and preheat to 260C (conventional oven). Remove the warmed baking sheet from the oven and slide the baking paper with the bread onto it. Make about 30 holes in the dough with your fingers without tearing the bottom, and fill them with olive oil using a pastry brush.

10 Spray the bottom of the oven with water and bake the bread for 10 minutes (keeping the bowl in the oven).

This is an edited extract from The Complete Guide to Baking by Rodolphe Landemaine, published by Hardie Grant Books, RRP $59.99. © Photography by Joerg Lehmann, illustrations by Vannis Varoutsikos, scientific explanations by Anne Cazor.

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