Italian tray baked bread with rosemary and sea salt

for the bread

Add the yeast to the warm water along with a spoonful of the flour. Stir until dissolved. Let stand for 5-10 minutes until a light foam surfaces and little bubbles are visible.

Meanwhile, add the flour, and salt to a large mixing bowl.

Once the yeast is proofed, pour in the mixture and mix the dough with your hands until no dry flour remains in the bowl and a cohesive mass forms. The dough will be very sticky.

Pour the olive oil over the dough, work together until the oil is absorbed. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.

Once rested, perform a stretch and fold by grabbing a corner of the dough in the bowl, lift straight up to stretch the dough as high as it will go without tearing and fold over to the other side. Rotate the bowl and perform three more reps of stretch and folds. Once folded, turn the dough over onto itself, cover and let rest another 25-30 minutes.

This is one set of a stretch and fold, perform 3 more sets with 25-30 minutes rest in between.

Drizzle olive oil into a 9x13 baking pan until the bottom is covered. After the last stretch and fold, turn the focaccia dough into the pan and gently work it to the edges. Note: If the dough is springing back from the edges, cover and let rest for 15-20 minutes before gently working to the edges.

Cover the pan and let the focaccia proof for 45-60 minutes. At the end of proofing, the dough should be well risen and puffy with gas bubbles. Preheat the oven to 210C fan.

Dimple the proofed dough with wet fingers by gently pushing to the bottom of the pan, but do not accidentally go through the dough. For me, I like lots of dimples and run over the dough 2-3 times.

For Baking

Whisk the olive oil and water together with a fork until it emulsifies, about 2-3 minutes. Pour the mixture over the focaccia where it will pool into the dimples.

Sprinkle flaky salt and fresh herbs over the top. If using other toppings like grape tomatoes, or olives, add them now too and gently press into the dough. Note: This turns into a great pizza with sauce, cheese and anything else you may have in the fridge.

Place on the middle rack of the 210C fan oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden on top. Let rest under a cloth on a wire rack for 5 minutes before slicing into hunks of focaccia