It’s such a good skill to know how to make all kinds of bread, a basic food staple, from scratch. This is a simple, no-fuss recipe for focaccia bread (an Italian flat bread). I’ve memorised it, not because I’ve made it so many times or because it’s so versatile, but simply because I’ve always felt it necessary to know the recipe without relying on a cookbook. It is made from flour, yeast, water, oil and salt – five ingredients that sustain us and fill our stomachs in times of excess, but also in times of need, Alhamdulillah.
1 cup warm water
10 g active dry yeast
250 g plain flour
60 ml olive oil + 2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp salt
1. In the bowl of a food processor or stand mixer, add warm water and drop the yeast in. Let it stand to proof for about ten minutes.
2. Add 1 cup of flour along with the salt and pulse the processor, or use the dough hook of the mixer to blend thoroughly.
3. Add the rest of the flour and the olive oil and mix well until you have a ball of dough that is not sticky, but is smooth and elastic.
4. Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise for about 30 minutes.
5. On a floured counter or flat surface punch out the dough to form either a large circle or rectangular shape. Place onto a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.
6. Preheat the oven to 204°C.
7. Using the teeth of a fork, poke holes all over the dough. Then, using the pad of your fingers, poke the dough lightly in various places to form indentations. Cover with a towel and allow the dough to rest for another 30 minutes or until it has risen.
8. Using a pastry brush, rub the extra oil all over the surface of the bread dough.
9. Place the bread into the hot oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until is a golden brown on top. Be careful not to overcook or it will become very hard.
10. Serve as a flat bread with olive oil for dipping or make additions to the dough before baking, such as adding cheese, cooked ground meat, or thinly sliced veggies on top.
Yvonne Maffei is the author of Summer Ramadan Cooking and the founder and publisher of MyHalalKitchen.com, a website about halal food and cooking. She also teaches cooking classes, gives lectures on healthy eating, and advises schools on how to source healthy, halal ingredients to create tasty halal recipes for their school lunches. She resides in Chicago, IL in the USA.