Focaccia is very similar to the Greek flatbread named lagana , which I have posted some time ago. As Wikipedia describes focaccia, the basic recipe is thought by some to have originated with the Etruscans or ancient Greeks, but it is now known as a delicacy of the Ligurian cuisine. The only difference between the two flatbreads is that the focaccia dough is covered in olive oil and when the dough is ready, a lot of ingredients are added in or on top of the dough. Greek lagana is mostly treated as a bread, accompanying meals or for toasted sandwiches whereas focaccia is a more aromatic flatbread and is great as a snack or topped as a pizza.
In ancient Rome, panis focacius was a flat bread baked in the ashes of the fireplace, (focus in Latin). The word is derived from the Latin focus meaning “centre” and also “fireplace”, the fireplace being in the centre of the house.
I had some leftover whole wheat flour to use so I decided to make focaccia with the ingredients I have already used in the past and had at home. We love Kalamata olives, combined with oregano and rosemary which I have already made into Eliopsomo, which is a Greek Olive bread, and Olive Bread Sticks, Cypriot Eliopitakia (small olive pies) and Cypriot Elioti, an olive roulade. The only thing new to the ingredients used this time, is the garlic. As I have previously said I have been using garlic a lot lately and wherever I have used it I am not disappointed.
I attempted to make the dough in the mixer bowl with the dough attachment but as my mixer is quite big and the quantity I made was not much it did not work, so I continued mixing (not kneading) the ingredients by hand. It turned out to be so easy that even a child can make this.
The bread will have to rise, but sometimes, during winter it’s not easy to achieve that. If you are living in very cold climates, here are a few tips for you, in order to help the bread to rise:
- Keep the bowl covered with a napkin and on top place a small blanket and place it next to a radiator or other heating source
- Preheating your oven. Whenever I have to bake bread I try to bake something else in the oven before so that leaving the bread near the oven helps
- Create something like bain marie (double boiler) for your bread. Place the bowl in which you have the dough in a baking tin, where you have added warm (be careful, not boiling) water or if you have a water bottle, fill it with hot water, place the bowl on top and cover
- Preheat your oven for only ten minutes at low temperature. Try touching the grill on which you shall put your bowl on and if you feel that it can be handled and is not hot for you to touch, then you can put your bowl in the oven, covered and leave it until it rises.
I am sending this recipe off to Andrea, of Andrea’s Recipes, who is hosting Grow your Own, as the Kalamata Olives were made by me last year and the olive oil is still the same which was sent to us by our in laws.
Whole Wheat Focaccia with Kalamata Olives
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
- 1 sachet (9 gr) dry yeast
- 1cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- A pinch of salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 20 Kalamata olives, pitted and finely chopeed
- ½ teaspoon Greek oregano
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried crushed rosemary
- a pinch of coarse sea salt
In a bowl add yeast, half quantity of lukewarm water and sugar. (To check the temperature of the water, you do not need a thermometre to do this. It’s just as simple as trying putting your little finger in the water and if you can do that, the water is perfect). Mix with a spoon and cover with a napkin until it bubbles (about 10 minutes).
In a separate bowl add flour, salt, yeast mixture, 3 tablespoons of olive oil and mix. Start adding the remaining water and mix with one hand until you have a dough which does not stick on your hands and on the bowl.Add more water or flour, if necessary.
Place dough in a bowl and cover with the remaining olive oil, making sure that the oil has reached the bottom of the bowl.Cover with napkin and let it rise, in a warm environment, for about 1 hour or more until it doubles in volume.
When the dough is ready, place on your working surface. You do not need to dust your working surface with flour. Use some of the oil that remains in the bowl, heat it in a non stick frying pan and sauté the onion and garlic until translucent and soft.Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
Start kneading the dough, adding the olives, oregano, rosemary, coarse sea salt, onion and garlic (without the oil).
Line a pizza pan with parchment paper, add some of the remaining oil and brush the parchment paper and place dough on top and flatten with your fingers until it is about 2 cm higher.Cover and leave it in a warm place to rise again (about half an hour).
Preheat oven at 180C degrees and bake focaccia for 30 minutes.
Serve hot but if you have leftover, it’s even better the following day.
Other relevant recipes:
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,