This easy-to-make Italian style olive focaccia is a soft & slightly chewy bread with a wonderful flavour. A delicious savoury snack for adults & children alike.
We recently returned from a wonderful short break in Venice. I’d never been there before and it was fascinating – so much to see, so beautiful, and such delicious food!
A visit to the Ghetto
One day we walked from our hotel near Piazza San Marco all the way to the old Jewish Ghetto. My daughter Kipper was an absolute star and walked the whole way, enjoying herself immensely looking at the shops and market stalls we passed en route. By the time we got there she was definitely ready for a snack, and we found a tiny kosher bakery offering a range of delicious looking baked goods.
She chose a slice of olive focaccia, which we had thought we would all be able to share. However, almost before I’d turned around she’d devoured the whole thing! She was pretty hungry, but it was INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS.
At the Jewish Museum, I bought a kosher Italian cookery book – La cucina nella tradizione ebraica – which I am having fun deciphering with the help of google translate. So far we have encountered such lost-in-translation gems as, “put the beans in the bathroom the night before…” and, “of course you already soaked raisins and shredded cedar.” Eek!
Tragically, the book didn’t include a recipe for olive focaccia (although there is one for raisin focaccia, which looks interesting). So in order to make it at home we had to look elsewhere. I found a recipe for ‘classic focaccia’ online, in Italian, naturally, and google translated it. We made it pretty much as written, except for the addition of 200g of pitted olives on the top.
Kipper was very keen to help in the preparation of this focaccia, although most of the hard work was done by the mixer. She helped with the weighing out, and of course with the positioning of the olives prior to baking. She was also extremely keen to sample the finished product. Repeatedly!
The focaccia was soft, slightly chewy, almost cakey in texture, with a wonderful olive flavour. DH thought it should have been ‘thicker’ so I may make a slightly smaller size rectangle from the same amount of dough next time. Personally, I thought it was just right. The crusts were golden and crisp with the olive oil and the occasional flake of coarse salt added an extra dimension of yumminess.
We took most of the olive focaccia to Kipper’s woodmice group, where ravenous pre-schoolers, appetites whetted by an hour of woodland exploring, scoffed it down alongside their baked potatoes and spicy apple juice. That’s what I call a picnic!
This made one focaccia, approximately 22 x 30cm in size.
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- 350 g plain flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 7 g instant dry yeast (approx. 2 tsp)
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp olive oil + extra for greasing
- 210 ml of warm water
- For the topping
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 200 g pitted olives
- coarse salt
- Mix the flour, salt, instant yeast and sugar.
- Add the warm water and oil, and mix until the dough is smooth and elastic - easiest done in a stand mixer using the dough hook.
- Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for about an hour in a warm place.
- Meanwhile, liberally grease a 22 x 30cm (or thereabouts) baking tray with plenty of olive oil.
- After an hour, knock back the dough and knead briefly (about a minute) then pat into the prepared tray. Cover and let rise for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200C (400F).
- Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the dough and press in the olives at regular intervals. Sprinkle over the salt. Allow to rise for a final 10 minutes.
- Bake at 200C (400F) for 25 minutes until risen and golden brown.
- Allow to cool, cut into squares and serve.
If you like home-made Italian food, why not have a go at this pesto, mushroom and asparagus pizza, this delicious peperonata, this asparagus carbonara with sun dried tomatoes, or this loaded cheesy breakfast focaccia.