Focaccia bicolore

This two-coloured flavoured focaccia is the result of an idea that came to me after making the bicoloured croissants a while ago. The result is a plain focaccia dough mixed with a tomato and red onion focaccia dough. After all, why not have focaccia with different and clearly defined flavours within?

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Essentially you make one amount of dough and flavour part of it before mixing the dough together in the baking tray, either going for precision or opting for amore liberating random approach.

The tomato flavour in part of the dough has a wonderful umami kick and when you dip the focaccia into balsamic vinegar you really do have a taste explosion in your mouth.

I use less yeast than many recipes for focaccia as well as for many other breads as I go for slower rises, including an overnight rise in the fridge. The smaller amount of yeast will ensure the dough does not over-prove but the enforced slowness of the rise gives a greater depth of flavour to the bread.

The difference in colour lessens on top of the baked focaccia, but once you cut it, you will see the difference more clearly.

Recipe: focaccia bicolore – makes one large focaccia

Focaccia dough:

  • 500g strong plain flour
  • 10g fine sea salt
  • 3g easy-blend yeast (or go for 7g if you don’t want to leave the dough in the fridge overnight)
  • 440g cold tap water
  • 60ml extra-virgin olive oil

Onion & tomato mixture:

  • 1 large red onion
  • about 50g sun-dried tomatoes (or 30g if you want a subtler tomato flavour)
  • a splash of olive oil
  • fine sea salt
  • a small handful of fresh basil, chopped

To finish:

  • a few tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • coarse sea salt

You will also need a large solid baking sheet, oiled and lined with greaseproof or baking parchment

(1) Prepare the onion and tomato mixture: heat the oil in a pan and add the onions, tomatoes and a little salr. Cook gently for about 20 minutes until the onions are very soft. Purée or coarsely chop the mixture and leave it to cool.  Add the basil and set aside until needed.

(2) Make the main focaccia dough: mix the flour, salt and yeast together in a large bowl. Add the oil and the water, mixing well to give a soft, sticky dough: don’t worry that it is very wet as the wetter this dough is, the better the hole structure of the focaccia.

(3)  With oiled hands, grab a large handful of the dough, pull it high out of the bowl and slap it back down into the bowl, repeating for about 5 minutes or so to help develop the gluten. Alternatively, knead the dough for 10-15 minutes on an oiled surface (and with oiled hands) or in the food mixer with the dough hook attachment until it becomes shiny and elastic.  NB: I favour the “grab and slap” approach with a very high hydration dough such as this – it really does work perfectly.

(4) Take just under half of the dough. Mix this portion mix well with the onion and tomato mixture. It is easier to scrunch them together with your fingers to help them combine. Don’t worry if this piece of the dough is a lot stickier than the rest of the dough.

(5) Put each piece of dough in a separate bowl and cover them both. At this point it is is better to refrigerate overnight until well risen. However, a few hours at room temperature, using the higher amount of yeast, will still give good results.

(6) Turn out both doughs onto a well-oiled surface and cut 0ff strips from each, trying not to deflate them too much. Lay the strips alternately onto the baking sheet: horizontally, diagonally or even randomly dolloped on the baking sheet….it really doesn’t matter.

(7) Splash over some or the oil and leave about an hour at room temperature until well risen. Use oiled fingers and make dimples all over, going right down to the baking parchment underneath. Sprinkle over a little salt.

(8) Bake in an oven preheated to 200C for about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, spoon over more oil and leave to cool in the tin before devouring.

Some of my other favourite focaccia recipes

Author: Philip

Finalist on Britain’s Best Home Cook (BBC Television 2018). Published recipe writer with a love of growing fruit & veg, cooking, teaching and eating good food.

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