In a bowl add ½ cup of warm water along with sugar. Add 1.5 tsp of Active Dry Yeast and mix it well.
Let it sit for 3-5 mins until it becomes quite frothy.
Meanwhile, in a bowl add 2 cups of all purpose flour, salt as needed and 1 tbsp olive oil.
Roughly mix it well until the flour looks crumbly.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the yeast mixture.
Using a spoon, roughly mix the mixture.
Add ¼ cup of warm water and quickly mix it through.
The dough should look sticky.
Add another 2 tbsp of all purpose flour to the dough.
Using your hands, slightly knead the dough. Apply few drops of oil or flour if the dough is sticky.
Spread ½ tbsp. of olive oil in a larger bowl and transfer the prepared dough to it.
Cover it with cling film and set it for proofing in a warm place until the dough has doubled up.
Slightly punch down the dough.
Line a baking tray with aluminum foil and grease it with ½ tbsp. of olive oil. Preheat the oven at 170°C for 10 mins.
Carefully transfer the dough onto the baking tray and flatten it out to the thickness of 1 cm.
Make many indentations on the dough using your fingers and fill each dent with few drops of olive oil. This helps the dough to remain spongy and keeps it from drying while baking.
Sprinkle some salt on top along with dried Italian herbs.
Place roundels of tomato and onion over the top.
Cover the bread with aluminum foil.
Bake it at 170°C with top covered for 15 mins.
Remove the aluminum foil and apply ½ tbsp. of olive oil as needed on top and bake again at 170°C for 20 mins or until the top is crusty and golden.
Remove from oven and let it rest for 5 mins.
Serve hot as it is or with grated cheese on top or as a side with a hearty vegetable soup.
I used ¾ cup of water but you might need little less or more depending on the dough and the climatic conditions. While adding warm water second time, be cautious and add in little amounts.
If you want to leave the dough to ferment for a long time, reduce the quantity of yeast. (Use 1/2 tsp yeast if you can leave out the dough for 12-15 hrs)
The dough will be sticky and it should be so, for the soft spongy texture.
Don’t let the dough sit for any longer as soon as it doubles up. Any more time could cause the yeast to die out and the dough just falls down.
I used 3 tbsp of olive oil including the greasing and everything. Add a little more for a much softer version.
I didn’t have a Focaccia pan or flat baking tray when I made this bread the first time. I just shaped it using my hands and the edges were little thin. Use a flat pan for even sized bread.
While making dents on the bread dough, dip your finger in some oil for easy poking.
Toppings on Focaccia can be anything from olives, garlic, cherry tomatoes, regular tomatoes, onions, grapes or even plain herbs like rosemary or parsley. I used dried Italian herbs along with onions and tomatoes (deseeded)