Danielle Alvarez's focaccia with whipped garlic ricotta

Focaccia has been a welcome upside to lockdown. Here's how to make it at home.
Focaccia has been a welcome upside to lockdown. Here's how to make it at home. Photo: William Meppem
Dietary
Vegetarian

I've seen so many gorgeous, home-made focaccias over the past few years, but even if you're no breadmaking whizz, this recipe is as easy as it gets. There's no kneading necessary and although it does require a long fridge proof, it doesn't have to be overnight (just 8-12 hours). Make it in the morning and bake it in the evening, you'll be so happy with the results. The pillowy texture makes it the perfect bread for dipping into delicious whipped ricotta.

Ingredients

For the focaccia

500g plain flour

2 tsp instant yeast

2 tsp salt

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1 tbsp honey

salt flakes

3 sprigs rosemary (optional)

For the whipped ricotta

500g ricotta (cow or buffalo)

1 tsp salt flakes

150ml pouring cream

60ml extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp white sesame seeds

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

2 tsp Korean or Aleppo chilli flakes

pinch of salt

juice and zest of ½ a lemon

To serve (optional)

fresh crudites, such as radish, carrots, fennel, baby cos leaves

Method

1. To make the focaccia, combine the flour, yeast and salt in a medium-sized bowl and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, mix 400ml of water at room temperature with the olive oil and honey and stir. Next, combine the wet and dry ingredients and blend using a spatula until there are no visible patches of dry flour. Cover the bowl tightly and place in the fridge for 8-12 hours.

2. Line a baking tray about 33cm x 22cm x 6cm with baking paper and drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil. Once the bread has proofed, remove from the fridge. Place the cold dough onto the tray and leave for 10-15 minutes, by which time it should have relaxed enough for you to stretch it into the corners. Cover loosely with a tea towel and allow it to puff up and double in size. Depending on the room's temperature, this will take 1-2 hours.

3. Preheat your oven to 200C fan-forced (210C conventional). Drizzle olive oil over the dough and sprinkle with flaky salt. If using rosemary, sprinkle the picked leaves on top and use your fingers to make dimples in the dough, pressing the rosemary in. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the bread is golden brown. When cool enough to handle, remove from the tray and move it to a cooling rack.

4. To make the whipped ricotta, combine the cheese, salt flakes and cream in a bowl, then use a stick blender to whip the mix until it's smooth and creamy. You can also do this in a food processor or by hand (while it won't be as smooth done by hand, it will be every bit as delicious). Set aside.

5. Make a chilli-garlic oil by combining the olive oil and sesame seeds in a small saucepan over low heat. Sizzle the seeds until golden, then turn off the heat. Add the minced garlic, chilli flakes and a pinch of salt, stir to combine and allow to sit until cool.

6. To serve, spread the ricotta on a platter or scoop into a bowl and spoon chilli-garlic oil on top. Add a few scrapes of lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice.