Focaccia bread is an easy and fun bread to make, and one I’ve been making since I was about thirteen years old. These homemade focaccia bread rolls are perfect for sandwiches, burgers, or leaving open for things like bruschetta or tofu scramble. This same recipe will make a whole loaf of bread too, so you can decide at the end which you would prefer.
How to make these homemade focaccia bread rolls
Tepid water is essential to the success of these homemade focaccia bread rolls, as the slightly warmer temperature allows the yeast to do its thing. To do this, pour mostly cold water into your measuring jug and then top up with a little boiling water from the kettle. Stir it through and then test with your fingers. It should be just slightly warm to the touch. If you’ve over-filled your jug doing this, then just empty some out until you have the required amount.
I almost always make a yeast mixture separately, using some of the tepid water, and leave it for 15 minutes to foam up. This activates the yeast and also shows you that your yeast is working before you pour it into the mix. If you have made this mix and it doesn’t foam after 15 minutes, then the yeast is dead and should be discarded.
I tend to use about 20 per cent semolina flour in my mix when making both focaccia bread and pizza dough, which gives it a really authentic Italian flavour. You can buy semolina flour in the world food section of most large supermarkets. Extra virgin olive oil is also a key ingredient to capture that authenticity.
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Homemade Focaccia Bread Rolls
Prep time: 20 minutes. Proving time: about 2 hours. Cooking time: 20 minutes.
Makes about 8 rolls.
2 tsp dried active yeast
1 tsp sugar
650ml tepid water (see description above)
900g strong white bread flour
200g semolina flour
1 tbsp salt
50ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle and brush
A good pinch of sea salt
1 tbsp dried rosemary (fresh chopped is fine too)
Put the yeast and sugar into a mug and add a little of the tepid water (about 50ml is fine). Stir with a teaspoon until it is completely combined and then leave to rest for 15 minutes. It will foam up in the mug if it is active.
Now put the 2 flours and the salt into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in your foamy yeast and almost all of the water, leaving a touch back in case the mixture is too wet. Pour in the olive oil also and then stir with a table knife until the mixture forms large clumps. You can add the rest of the water here if it seems too dry.
Now bring the dough together with your hands and tip out onto a clean work surface. You shouldn’t need to flour it first, but you may do so if you feel more comfortable. I typically don’t.
Knead the dough with both hands for about 7-8 minutes, until it is smooth and stretchy. Clean out the mixing bowl, drizzle a little olive oil into it and then put the dough back in, covering it with the oil. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and leave in a warm place (I put mine near a radiator) for about 90 minutes, until it has doubled in size.
Bring the dough out and knead again for a couple of minutes to knock all of the air out of it. Roll your dough into a large sausage shape and divide into 8 equal portions (less if you want bigger rolls). Roll these 8 into balls.
Dust 2 baking sheets with a little flour (or you can grease them with olive oil). Put 4 rolls on each sheet, with plenty of space in between them. Brush each one with olive oil and then sprinkle on the sea salt and dried rosemary. Press into each roll with your fingertips to get that characteristic focaccia look. Gently cover again and leave for another 30 minutes or so to prove a 2nd time.
Preheat the oven to gas 6/200C/400F.
Put the rolls in the middle of the oven, 1 batch at a time, for 20 minutes, or until they have risen, browned on top and sound hollow when you tap them. Leave to cool on a cooling rack.
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