There is certain amount of commitment needed for this recipe, as you must begin the day before you intend to bake it and fold it repeatedly over a few hours. Please persist though, as the technique is as easy as it is time consuming, and the results will be hugely gratifying. A generous amount of olive oil is key to any focaccia’s success but added to this is the robust flavour of black olive tapenade, with a few cherry tomatoes chucked in for some sweetness and acidity, but feel free to experiment with other additions too.
For the polish:
For the focaccia dough:
Start the recipe the day before you want to bake the focaccia. To make the polish, combine the water and yeast together, then stir till the yeast has dissolved. Add this to the flour, stir until it has combined to a wet, smooth dough. Cover and leave for 4-6 hours, or until risen by double, bubbling and active.
To make the focaccia dough, combine in a jug, the yeast and water and stir until dissolved. Place the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the water and polish, then stir to start bringing the flour in from the edges. When it is too thick to stir, use one of your hands to mix it all together till well combined. Scrape all the dough off your hand, then leave for 30 minutes.
Mix the salt with 50 grams of water, add to the dough and mix till combined. Don’t worry if it feels very wet. Leave for 30 minutes.
Find a large deep tray or plastic tub and add the olive oil, then add the dough on top of this. Pick one edge of the dough up, lift it up to stretch it, then fold it back on itself. Turn the dough 90 degrees around and repeat. This is the stretching and folding. Repeat these folds three more times, at 1-hour intervals, with the dough left at room temperature.
Once the folds have been completed, cover the tray and rest overnight (but not more than 24 hours) in the fridge.
When ready to cook, line a deep baking tray (around 30x15cm, smaller is ok) with non-stick paper and pour off any excess oil from the dough onto the base. Lift the dough onto paper and with oil on your hands, stretch out to the corners. Leave the dough to prove for around 30-45 minutes. It should look bubbly and risen. When ready, heat your oven to 250C.
Once the oven is hot, dollop large spoonful of the tapenade all over the dough, then scatter the tomatoes and chopped rosemary on top. With oiled fingers, push the tomatoes and tapenade into the base of the dough, then season with flaky salt and pepper and leave for 5 minutes.
Place the tray in the oven and bake for 5 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 210C fan / 230C nonfan and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until crisp and golden on the top. Remove from the oven and allow to cool, then take out and place on a rack. Cover with chopped parsley and serve whilst still warm. If the paper sticks, allow to cool more, before carefully peeling off. Best eaten on the day it made.