This tried and tested recipe produces bubbly, crisp focaccia every time. Decorated with some seasonal ingredients, it's the perfect addition to any festive gathering and is simply delicious. The hands on time is actually very little, just get a poolish on the go and it'll work its magic!
Prep time: 40 mins
Bake time: 55 mins
Proofing time: 2 - 3 hours (or overnight)
For the poolish
250g Risen Mighty White Bread Flour
2g dried instant yeast
For the dough
280g Risen Mighty White Bread Flour
165g water, then 40g water
2g dried yeast
12g fine sea salt
3 sprigs of rosemary
slabs of brie
200ml good quality olive oil
flaky sea salt
For the poolish, mix the yeast and the water together until the yeast has dissolved, then add the flour. Mix it all together so there are no dry bits; it will be quite sloppy. Cover with a cloth and leave somewhere warm to ferment. It should take about 2 hours to triple in size and have bubbles on the surface. Go by the look of it and not the time but be sure to use it before it begins to deflate.
When the poolish is ready, add the first water amount for the dough and the yeast. It will feel slimy but don't worry; add the flour and mix thoroughly until the flour is fully incorporated. If you are doing this by hand, it should take around 4 minutes; if using a mixer witha dough hook, it'll be 2 minutes on a slow speed. Cover and leave for an hour's autolyse.
After the autolyse, add the second water amount and the salt. Mix it in with your hands. It will be break up a bit but will come together. Once it has, it's time to knead it until the dough becomes elastic and silky. If kneading by hand, this should take 10 minutes; if using a stand mixer, mix for 2 minutes on a slow speed, then 4 minutes on fast. The easiest way by hand is stretch and folding in the bowl - grab one side and stretch it upwards as far as it will let you and fold it back in on itself, turn the bowl and repeat.
Once mixed and feeling much smoother, take the dough out the bowl, add 2 generous glugs of olive oil to the bowl and return the dough. Cover and rest for and 3 hours. After each hour, do a set of stretch and folds - 4 in total at each 'side'.
After 3 hours the dough should be feeling pillowy, silky and bubbly. Tip it into a well-oiled standard-sized baking tray and fold it into a square shape. Don't worry if this is smaller than the tray, it will spread out. Leave it somewhere warm for an hour. (It can be put in the fridge overnight at this stage also).
Fold each side in to create another square and leave for 2 hours. After an hour, fold to create a square again.
If it feels ready, slide your hands underneath and slowly stretch it out, pulling from the central underbelly. Be gentle. If it is not ready, leave the dough another hour. Heat the oven to its hottest setting.
Whisk together the 200ml of olive oil and 100ml water until cloudy and pour all over the top of the dough. Dimple the top with your fingers to evenly spread the bubbles inside. Don't worry if the dimples go through to the tray. Be careful not to over dimple as it will knock the air out.
Sprinkle with salt, the rosemary, the brie and the chesnuts and bake for 15 minutes. Be careful taking it out as there will be excess oil still in the tray. Remove and leave to cool on a wire rack.