Not to be corny, but making bread is an activity that has brought me unrivalled joy throughout my life. A handful of ingredients and a few hours will yield a delicious loaf to share and fill and entire house with the cosiest, most comforting smell. This focaccia recipe is really, actually, truly easy and is the perfect way to wind down after a day of worrying about the fall of modern civilisation as we know it. At least we’ll probably always have bread.
1 mug of warm water
1 desert spoon of active dried yeast
2 mugs of flour (plain or high grade)
sprinkle of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
1/3 cup of olive oil
Toppings (optional): rosemary, sliced black olives, black pepper, flaky salt.
0. Wash your hands.
1. Place one mug of warm water in your biggest mixing bowl. It should be warm to the touch but not hot. The temperature of breast milk, if you’ve had the pleasure. Sprinkle one desert spoon of yeast on top, followed by a sprinkle of sugar. Bread science: the warm water wakes up the sleeping yeast and the sugar feeds it.
2. Wait until the yeast is foamy on the top of the water and add the first mug of flour. If the yeast didn’t foam after about five minutes, the yeast is dead or the water was too hot, start again. Anyway, mix in your flour with a big wooden spoon until it forms a smooth, gloopy mess. Add a few big glugs of olive oil and a teaspoon of salt and mix together.
3. Add your second mug of flour and mix again. This is a very wet dough so we won’t be kneading this fella. Just vigorously mix the dough with your spoon for a couple of minutes to work the gluten.
4. Cover the bowl with cling film or a clean, wet tea towel and leave to rise. You can leave at room temperature for one hour or in the fridge overnight if you want to bake in the morn. Don’t wait any longer, though, or you could get sick.
5. Once the dough has risen it should be very soft to the touch and have large bubbles in it. Add a few big glugs of olive oil to a baking tray (ideally rectangular with sides) and flop the dough onto the tray. Press the dough down with your utensil to so it is flat and reaches all sides of tray. Then, grab (with your clean hands) the dough and flip it over. This will ensure the top of your dish is smooth and covered in oil.
6. Use your finger tips to press cute lil dimples all over the dough, then drizzle more olive oil on it. If this whole thing is starting to feel erotic, it’s okay, it’s not just you. Add whatever toppings you like, but at least some salt and cracked pep. Turn the oven to 220°C, but leave the bread on the benchtop to rise for another 30 minutes. It’s a good idea to time this meal around hour of power because the oven will be on high heat for about an hour.
7. Chuck your loaf in the oven for about half an hour or until the top is golden and crunchy. Make sure to always bake your bread on the middle rack so that the top and bottom are both really crusty.
8. Once out of the oven, sit your hot tray of bread on top of a cooling rack (or an unused stovetop element if you don’t have one) for 10 minutes before slicing it up.
Enjoy it fresh and warm with your flat mates, or use it as sandwhich bread for your lunches. Fuck it, eat it all yourself as a midnight snack. I’d recommend just adding garlic butter, or dipping it in more oil and dukkah. Look at you, bitch, you’re so fancy.