Focaccia is a very versatile type of bread, very forgiving, and delicious with many different additions. Apart from the famed focaccia al rosmarino, this is my absolute favourite. The dough is amazing on its own, but the fragrant toasted sesame seeds send it over the top for me.
Also, this is a no-knead bread, so even if you have never made bread on your own, do not fret, you only need a bowl and a wooden spoon. But, the dough does require a lot of time to rise properly, so plan ahead.
I usually serve it hot with a main dish, but you can most certainly serve it as a sandwich bread. There are really so many ways to enjoy this wonderful bread, that whichever you choose, you cannot be wrong.
200 grams wholemeal flour
200 grams plain flour
½ teaspoon dried yeast
1 teaspoon salt
300 ml warm water
3 tablespoons olive oil
50 grams sesame seeds
2 tablespoons olive oil (for brushing)
First toast the sesame seeds. Take a large skillet and pour in the sesame seeds in an even layer. Place the skillet on medium high heat, stirring them occasionally, or shaking the pan, until they get darker in colour and fragrant. That should take up to 5 minutes. Do not let them burn, because they will be bitter. Remove the pan from the heat and let them cool down slightly.
Sift both flours into a large bowl, add the yeast and salt and whisk it very well. Make a well in the centre, and add the majority of the sesame seeds (leave about a tablespoon or two for sprinkling on top), warm water and 3 tablespoons of oil. Mix with a wooden spoon until a very soft and slightly sticky dough forms. The dough will pull away from the sides of the bowl, but it will be too sticky to knead by hand. Cover the top of the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough sit at room temperature for 12 hours. You can stir and stretch the dough with a wooden spoon a few times during the rise, but it isn’t necessary.
The next day, when the dough has risen, gently knead it with a wooden spoon and transfer it to a large, well-greased baking pan. Brush the top of the dough with 2 tablespoons of oil and gently stretch and press it out with your hands until it fills the pan completely. If some of the oil goes beneath the dough, it is fine. Sprinkle the reserved sesame seeds on top of the dough, then let it rise for another 2 hours. When the dough has risen, make little indents with your finger in the dough, then bake it in a preheated oven at 200°C (400°F) for about 20-25 minutes. Let it cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then slice it up and serve.
By Tina Vesić