This is the recipe that ROSTO used in their restaurant in Johannesburg. It was one of the most popular items in the shop. (and yes, that's Alfonsina in the main pic.)
It is a soft, light, almost fluffy style focaccia - perhaps a bit taller than the typical focaccia genovese. Focaccia predates pizza by several centuries. It is a bread that the Romans used to make. The round flat baked pizza base with no topping served in some restaurants is not focaccia...
Focaccia (the ROSTO one)
This is a fantastic light focaccia recipe that can be made plain with just a salt and olive oil topping. You can also get inventive and come up with some toppings of your own.
Popular toppings for focaccia are:
- Rosemary or Sage
- Rosemary and garlic
- Oregano, thinly sliced onion and Parmigiano cheese
- Confit cherry tomatoes and basil pesto
Remember it is not pizza and less is more; you just want a hint of flavour. You also don't want the soft, light dough to flatten under heavy toppings.
- 200g Motherdough, refreshed
- 500g White bread flour
- 170g Baked mashed potato (from 250-300g raw potato)
- 350g Water, filtered, at room temperature
- 10g Sea salt
- 50g Extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt flakes
- 50g Water
- 50g Extra vigin olive oil
- Extra virgin olive oil for greasing the tray
- Bake unpeeled potato in oven at 180 deg C fan on, for about 90 minutes until crispy on the outside and really soft in the middle (do a squeeze test with a cloth). Scoop the potato out and mash or pass through ricer and set aside for use.
- Break the Motherdough into chunks, add potato and water. Blitz with hand blender into a paste.
- Place into your mixer bowl, add oil, salt, and flour. Knead on medium-high speed until the dough is elastic, smooth and pulls away from the sides, wrapped around the hook leaving the bowl clean. 15-20 minutes approx.
- If you are doing slap and fold, mix all the ingredients together into a homogeneous dough. Proceed to knead with the slap & fold method until you have a smooth elastic dough that doesn't stick to the worktop. This will take continuous kneading of 20-25 minutes.
- Fold the dough into a rectangle, place in an oiled plastic container, loosely close and leave to rest for 1-2 hours. Close tightly and place in the fridge for 12 hours for slow fermentation at 6 deg C.
- Remove the dough from the fridge.
- Spray 1 tray of about 30 X 40 X 2cm in size with nonstick spray and then spread 50g extra virgin olive oil.
- Place the dough on the tray, pull it to stretch it out a bit, and turn over, then spread in the tray using pulse-push-spread action with your fingers and palms of your hands.
- Leave to prove in a warm place until the dough has visibly risen and is nice and wobbly. It should be the height of the baking tray or a little over. The best way to prove the focaccia is in the switched off oven, light only on and a bowl of boiling water at the bottom. To get the best prove possible warmth and steam are important for this bread.
- Place the water and oil for the top dressing in a bowl and use it to wet your fingers. Then you want to use all 10 fingers to press into the dough firmly until you touch the tray. Repeat for the entire surface of the focaccia, wetting your hands inbetween so you make nice defined indentations.
- Take the remainder of the oil water mix and splash it over the dough so that it collects in the holes.
- Sprinkle with salt, and dress with any desired toppings.
- Leave to prove for another 30-60 minutes until it has regained a bit of volume after the finger step.
- Bake at 180 deg. C fan assisted for 25 minutes until lightly golden. Leave to cool in the trays and remove to serve. To be really Italian cut the focaccia into pieces with a large pair of scissors instead of a knife.
It would be best to use potatoes suitable for baking, boiling or mashing. You want a floury potato variety not a waxy one that would be used for chips or roasting.
Level of difficulty: Intermediate
Skills to develop: Stretching and finger technique.