1. Put the flour, yeast and salt into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the warm water.

2. Mix to form a rough dough then add the olive oil. Scrape out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-15 minutes until you have a nice smooth dough. The dough will be quite sticky, but persevere and as you knead you will notice it come together and become smoother. Think baby's bottom; this may take you longer than anticipated.

3. Shape the dough into a round ball. Lightly oil a large bowl, then place the dough inside. Cover with lightly oiled cling film and leave to rise for an hour or so, until doubled in size (I sometimes take a photo when it goes in so I can monitor this).

4. Knock back the dough and leave to rise a second time, using the same lightly oiled bowl, with lightly oiled cling film across the top. You don't have to do this step if you don't have the time, it will work with one rise only.

5. Lightly grease a 25cm x 35cm shallow baking tin.

6. When the dough has risen the second time, shape into a rectangle and place in the baking sheet. Leave to rise another 30 minutes or so until light and puffy. Set the oven to 230 degrees.

7. Use your fingertips to make dents in the focaccia (the dough should hold the dents, if it springs back immediately, leave to rise for a little longer). Drizzle generously with olive oil, strew with coarse sea salt and the olives.

8. Bake in the oven for around 15-20 minutes until well risen and golden on top (you may need to reduce the oven temperature slightly after 10 minutes).

8. Remove from the oven and drizzle on more olive oil to be really indulgent. Leave to cool if you dare... mine is usually demolished on the spot. You can also add chopped herbs at this point - they will toast lightly from the heat of the focaccia.

This keeps well for a few days if you are happy to cut and lightly toast.

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Foolproof Focaccia

SERVES:

8 to accompany a starter

500g strong white flour

 

10g fine salt

 

5g fast action yeast

 

2 tbsp olive oil

 

350ml warm water

 

85g tin of green olives with pimiento, roughly sliced

Serve with:

Coarse sea salt sprinkled on top

Note: If the weather is on the nippy side, I often set my oven to 30 degrees to let bread prove, which yields more consistent results. Don't worry if your bread takes longer to rise - leave it alone and it eventually will!
When kneading the dough, keep on going until it's super smooth and when you poke it, it springs back. Again, this may take longer than you think!

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Foolproof Focaccia