High gluten and gluten free Focaccia Bread
Focaccia is a traditional flat oven-baked Italian bread. It is seasoned with olive oil and sometimes contains vegetables such as tomatoes, zucchinis, peppers,onions, aubergines or olives. Often it’s topped with salt and spices or fresh herbs. It is a very versatile and popular bread and can be served as a side dish to a meal, on its own or with a selection of dips and spreads and also makes a great bread for sandwiches. Because the dough of focaccia is very similar to pizza dough it is also used as a thick-base pizza dough in places.
Before making a gluten free focaccia bread I want to talk a more in depth look at the traditional characteristics and recipes for focaccia.
Traditional focaccia dough consists of high-gluten flour, olive oil, water, yeast and salt which is simply rolled out into a thick base and then baked on a hot stone oven. As the gluten rich version tends to bubble up as it bakes the surfaces of the bread get’s punctured during baking to make sure the loaf stays flat. The dough is usually dotted before baking. You simply poke your finger into the top of the unbaked bread to create little wells in the surface of the bread. The wells can be filled with herbs like a few thyme or rosemary springs. Contrary to pizza where a combination of toppings (tomatoes, herbs vegetables etc) are used with focaccia toppings are not commonly mixed. Any topping is usually spread out in a uniform way as opposed to scattered over the top like on a pizza.
Characteristic for focaccia is the application of olive oil over the top of the dough before letting it rise to protect the dough from drying out. Unlike pizza dough, focaccia has a higher yeast content which allows it to rise a lot more than a flat pizza base. As a result the bread tends to crust during baking but the oil sinks into the bread.
Making a gluten free focaccia bread
Having learned a bit about the characteristics of focaccia it is now time to look at how we can make a gluten free focaccia bread. In this version I choose to season the focaccia just with coarse sea salt as it is the basic recipe. Please feel free to add herbs, spices or vegetables to this gluten free focaccia. You can obviously make a traditional focaccia with regular flour using the ingredient list below as well.
Ingredients for 1 loaf of gluten free Focaccia:
- 14 oz/400g gluten free flour
- 1 tbs xanthan gum
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 ½ tbs caster sugar
- 1 tbs yeast
- 5 tbs cold pressed olive oil
- 1tsp lemon juice
- 2 egg white
- 1 cup/250/330ml water
- 1 tsp coarse salt
- 1 tbs cold pressed olive oil
Preparation – Gluten Free Focaccia Bread
Preparation time: 1.5 hrs – 10 minutes (plus 40 minutes for rising) baking time: 40 minutes
1. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
2. Whisk the egg whites, add the oil, lemon juice and water and then mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients to make a sticky dough.
3. Put the dough into a non-stick baking tray (silicone ones work really well with this dough), cover with cling film and let it rise in a warm place (40 min).
4. Poke the dough with your finger to make small wells, apply some olive oil and sprinkle the coarse sea salt over the dough.
5. Pre-heat the oven to 220˚C. Bake the focaccia for about 40 minutes.
6. Remove the bread from the baking tray. Drizzle with a little bit more olive oil and serve after it has cooled down a bit.
To make a focaccia from regular flour:
- 1 lb 2 oz/500 g flour
- 2 tbs cold pressed olive oil
- 2 sachets of dried yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 14 fl oz/400 ml warm water
- coarse sea salt for sprinkling
Combine all the ingredients and kneed the dough for about 5-10 minutes to ensure the dough has the right consistency. It should be springy and left to rise until it has doubled in size before being rolled out into a tray and left to rise for another hour. Continue as with the gluten free focaccia but only bake it for 20 minutes.