If you’re new to bread making, this super easy no knead focaccia is the best place to start. Just mix your ingredients, then let it rest and do it’s thing. No fancy ingredients, no special equipment and you’ll be enjoying the most deliciously soft and airy focaccia in no time.
One of the biggest barriers when it comes to baking bread is the kneading, at least, it was for me! I always found it tricky to know if I was doing it properly or long enough. But that’s where this fabulous no-knead recipe comes in. Focaccia really is a great place to start with bread. It’s a really forgiving dough that’s great for beginners. Even my very kitchen-adverse younger brother nailed this one which is a great testimonial.
All we’re doing here is mixing the ingredients in a bowl, doing three sets of ‘stretch and folds’, then leaving the dough to rise and develop strength before baking.
What are stretch and folds?
This isn’t something to be nervous about. While you’re not kneading the dough, you do need to help it along the way and develop some structure to the bread. If you don’t do this you won’t get that lovely airy lightness you’re after in focaccia. All this means is you’re going to wet your hands, then pick up one corner of the dough and fold it back on itself. Then rotate the bowl a quarter, and do the same with the next patch of dough. You’ll do this four times, then cover the dough, and let it relax for a few minutes before doing it again. You’ll then do it one more time before covering the dough and leaving it to rise.
The ingredient list for this recipe is fabulously short and you can find everything at the supermarket.
- Bread flour. If you can’t find any, you can just use plain all-purpose flour.
- Instant yeast. You can use active yeast if you can’t find instant – you’ll need to dissolve the active yeast in 100g of the water for 10 minutes first, before adding it to the bowl with everything else.
- Olive oil. Because you’ll be using a lot in this recipe, I recommend using good quality extra virgin olive oil if you can. The flavour comes through in the finished bread so it does make a difference if you use a good one.
- Chilli oil. I LOVE topping this focaccia with chilli oil, but you can really play around here. Some other combinations I love are sundried tomato and thyme or just plain sea salt and rosemary. I do recommend trying the chilli oil version though – it brings a lovely depth of flavour to the bread and isn’t too spicy. I’m using my homemade chilli oil.
- Cheese. Chilli, cheese and fresh bread is a match made in heaven. I’m using grated mozzarella for her the ultimate melty factor, but just go for whatever cheese you like.
I bake this focaccia in a deep 24cm x 35cm oven tray, but you can use something smaller or larger. Just be mindful that it will affect the thickness of your finished loaf and impact baking time. If you use something larger, your focaccia will be thinner and may take a little less time to cook (check after 25 minutes) and if you use something smaller, your focaccia will be thicker and may take longer to bake through (check after 30 minutes and leave it in the oven for a further 10 minutes if it still looks a little light in colour).
How to make your focaccia
Making this is a lot easier than you might think! Start by gathering your ingredients, then you’ll get everything into a large mixing bowl. This dough is SUPER wet and you might think it’s too wet, but I promise it works so don’t be tempted to add more flour. The longer the dough rests, the more ‘dough-like’ it’ll become.
Mix everything together until a sloppy, shaggy dough starts to form. Then cover it with a tea towel and let it rest for two minutes.
Now we’re moving to our stretch and folds. Start by wetting one of your hands, then with it in a ‘C’ shape, scoop underneath one portion of the dough using the side of the bowl to guide you. Gently lift the dough up, then fold it over itself into the middle of the bowl. Turn the bowl a quarter, then repeat this with another section of dough. Do this twice more, stretching and folding all sides of the dough. Then cover the bowl with a tea towel and let it rest for two minutes.
Uncover the dough, and repeat the stretch and fold process. You’ll notice the dough will already have changed and become a little more pillowy! Repeat the same process as above, then cover again, rest for two more minutes and do one more set of stretch and folds.
Here’s what the dough looks like after the three rounds of stretch and folds! You’ll see it’s changed quite a bit from the sloppy, shaggy dough you started out with. That’s because you’ve started the gluten development in the bread. At this point, it’s time for the first rise. You can either cover the bowl in cling film and do this at room temperature or pop it (covered) in the fridge to rise overnight. You want the dough to have doubled in size and be super bubbly. I like to take a photo of my dough as I cover it so I can compare and see if it’s ready! This normally takes me an hour and a half but will be very dependent on the temperature of your kitchen, so judge with your eyes rather than the clock.
This is my dough after the first rise (I did this at room temperature). You can see how it’s risen and how bubbly it is on the top. That’s what we want to see!
Get the tray you’re baking your focaccia in, and drizzle it with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. I’m making mine in a 24cm x 35cm high-sided oven tray so try and use something similarly sized. You can make it in a smaller or larger tray but it will impact the height and baking time so just keep that in mind. Using a wet hand, carefully transfer the dough from the bowl into the tray. It will naturally spread out to fill the sides during the second rise, so don’t worry if it’s not perfectly reaching the corners. Drizzle another tablespoon of olive oil on top, then let it rise again until very bubbly and wobbly. This takes me 45 minutes at room temperature but again, use the dough and your eyes as the guide rather than the clock.
Once it is VERY wobbly and bubbly and has risen up the sides of the tray, you’ll know it’s ready to bake. I like to get the oven heating to 200C fan about 10 minutes into the second rise.
And now comes my favourite part! When your dough is ready to bake, it’s dough dimpling time. You’re going to drizzle 3 tablespoons of chilli oil all over the top of the dough, then with oiled fingers, press down all over the dough. Pretending you’re playing the piano all over the dough is the best way to describe this! The crevices you’re making will collect all the lovely chilli oil and make for a very puffy, airy finished focaccia.
Once you’ve dimpled the dough all over, sprinkle over the mozzarella if you’re using it, then scatter 1 teaspoon of flaky salt all over the top. You’re ready to cook! Bake for 30 minutes, until golden all over, and the side of the bread is pulling away from the tin. Let cool in the tin for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to stop the bottom from going soggy. Slice and devour!
Got a question?
Yes! This recipe is incredibly flexible and you can definitely put the dough in the fridge overnight and bake it the next day. You can either do this straight after mixing or after the first rise. It will just take a little bit longer to do the second rise the next day (allow another 40 mins) so just keep that in mind. Think of the fridge as putting the breaks on your dough whenever you need it.
No problem – just mix the 2 teaspoons of the active yeast with 200ml of the lukewarm water and let sit for 10 minutes before adding with the rest of the ingredients.
I like to store my focaccia in an airtight container at room temperature – it will last at least 4 days this way. Freshen it up in the toaster after the second day if you like.
This is where you can get creative! I love combinations like sundried tomatoes with thyme, Kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes and garlic or simply sea salt and rosemary.
Definitely! It’s best the day you bake it, but I like to slice chunks in half and then freeze them in zip-lock bags. Then you can just pop in the toaster to defrost whenever you’d like a piece.
There are a couple of reasons you might end up with dense focaccia:
– for the best accuracy when doing any kind of baking, use a scale to measure your ingredients by weight, rather than relying on conversion to cups. That’s because in general, measuring by cups isn’t consistent – the way you pack the flour into a cup can have a big impact on the actual weight. Baking is precise so if your measurements are off, you risk getting a different result.
– you may not have let your dough rise long enough (or let it rise for too long). Make sure you’re taking a photo of the dough rising to compare, rather than just relying on time.
– check your yeast. Make sure your yeast is actually active by dissolving 1 teaspoon in a little water (about 1/2 a cup) along with 1 teaspoon of sugar. Give it a stir and let it sit for 10 minutes. If it’s active and thriving, it’ll look bubbly and foamy. If it’s dead, the yeast won’t properly dissolve and it won’t foam up.
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If you make this recipe let me know how you go in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you.Print