There are many things in life that make me happy, and focaccia is definitely one of them! The whole process of making focaccia brings a smile to my face. You truly can’t beat the smell of it cooking in the oven.
Top it with fresh cherry tomatoes and rosemary, served with balsamic vinegar and your finest extra virgin olive oil, and you’re in Italian heaven.
Whilst the title of this recipe states that this is a vegan focaccia recipe, most Focaccia is actually traditionally vegan, because it is made using just flour and oil. On rare occasions though, eggs and butter may be used, either to make the dough or to glaze the top. Although, they really aren’t needed and any traditional Italian recipe will prove this.
What is the secret to great focaccia?
If you have the time, your focaccia will massively benefit from a long rise overnight in the fridge. This extra time will make your focaccia really airy and light. It will also allow the flavour to develop!
How do you eat focaccia?
There are many delicious ways to eat focaccia:
- With dips: The best way to eat focaccia in my opinion is with an olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip. You can get inventive with your own dips.
- As it is: Just tear off chunks of freshly baked focaccia and enjoy the amazing taste of the oily bread and toppings on their own.
- As a sandwich: Slice it lengthways and fill it with vegan mayonnaise and your favourite fake meats to make an Italian sandwich.
- As a side dish: Dunk it into your favourite soup or stew. Or serve it as a side to a tasty pasta dish, like this creamy mushroom pasta.
Spelt focaccia recipe
- 2 sprigs of rosemary - fresh
- 2 tbsp olive oil - extra virgin if possible
- Pinch Sea salt flakes
- 8 Cherry tomatoes - halved
- Mix the flour in with the yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl
- Mix in the warm water until fully incorporated and then knead in the 2 tbsp of olive oil
- If kneading by hand: flour your work surface and scrape the dough out onto the surface. Knead for 1 to 2 minutes, but be careful not to over-knead. The dough will be sticky but don't be tempted to add more flour
- If kneading in a standalone mixer: let the machine knead the dough for 1 minute
- Place the dough into a well-greased (oiled) bowl and cover it with a damp tea towel. Leave in a warm place to rise for around 1 hour (or until double in size)
- Scape your dough out of the bowl into an oiled baking tray (about the size of a large brownie tray) and push down on the dough using your fingertips, until all the air has been released
- Using your hands, pull the dough out to the sides, so it fills the whole tray
- Sprinkle the other 2 tbsp of oil on top, along with a large pinch of sea salt flakes, and the leaves from the rosemary sprig.
- Push the cherry tomato halves into the dough so that the dough comes up over the sides slightly. I like to keep the inside of the tomato half pointing up as it looks prettier!
- Re-cover the dough with the damp tea towel and leave to rise again, until the dough is reaching the top of the tray (nearly doubled in size)
- Preheat your oven to 220ºC fan
- Place the tray into the oven and cook for about 10 minutes and then check on the bread. If it is browning too quickly, reduce the temperature to around 180ºC fan. Cook for a further 15 minutes (or until the bread makes a hollow noise when you tap on it)
- Leave the focaccia to cool for a while before pushing it out of the tray. Serve warm with your favourite dips or pasta dish
Breadmaking can be tricky to get right and focaccia is no different. Plus, if you are looking to make your own changes to this vegan spelt focaccia recipe, you may want to look at these troubleshooting points.
Can I use white bread flour instead of spelt flour?
Spelt is an ancient grain which hasn’t been tampered with, like most white flour. This means it is more gentle on the stomach, and I believe, much tastier! It has a beautiful earthy nuttiness to it.
However, spelt flour isn’t always the easiest to get hold of and maybe you prefer the taste of white bread flour. In which case, yes you can indeed sub the spelt flour like for like with white bread flour. The dough will end up lighter and fluffier, but the taste won’t have the same depth.
Why is my focaccia not fluffy?
Dense flat bread means that there hasn’t been any gluten formation during the dough-making process. If this has happened to your focaccia then you may need to knead the dough for a little longer, or it could benefit from a longer rise. Try keeping the dough in the fridge overnight before baking the dough to give it a better chance of rising effectively.
Why isn’t my focaccia crispy?
Crispy focaccia is a result of a very hot oven and a lot of oil inside the dough. So you need to make sure that you are putting your dough into a hot oven to cook and don’t scrimp on the oil!
Can I make my focaccia gluten-free?
You can indeed make this focaccia recipe using gluten-free flour. Although it won’t have the same airy fluffiness that you get from using gluten-based flours.
I have actually tried out a gluten-free version by subbing the spelt flour in this recipe like-for-like with Doves Freee White Bread Flour. The result was incredible when you consider how dry most gluten-free bread is. So, definitely give it a go if you need to eat gluten-free!
Other bread recipes
Did you enjoy my vegan focaccia recipe? Then make sure to check out my other bread recipes.