Focaccia with lemon, roast onions + grapes
This recipe, inspired by my brilliant friend Samin Nosrat, uses a brine to season the focaccia, evenly salting it to make it all the more delicious. You can skip the overnight proving and just use 4g yeast instead of ½ tsp (which is about 1g). Samin’s tip: To store, wrap in parchment and then keep in an airtight bag or container to preserve texture. Gently toast or reheat any leftover focaccia before serving. Alternatively, wrap tightly to freeze, then defrost and reheat before serving.
For the dough
½ tsp active dry yeast
2 tsp runny honey
700g plain flour
½ tbsp sea salt (about 12g)
40ml best extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing and finishing
For the topping
150g black grapes
4 red onions, peeled and sliced
8 bay leaves
4 sprigs rosemary
Flaked sea salt, for finishing
1 lemon, peel pared with a vegetable peeler
The night before you bake, stir together 525ml lukewarm water, yeast and honey to dissolve. In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt, then add the yeast mixture and olive oil. Stir to combine and, using a spatula or dough scraper, scrape the sides of the bowl clean and cover with a tea towel or clingfilm. Leave at room temperature for 12 to 14 hours, until at least doubled in volume.
The next morning, pour two to three tablespoons of oil on to a 40cm x 30cm roasting tray, preferably 4cm deep. Pour the dough into the tray – use a dough scraper to help you. Rub two tablespoons of olive oil over the dough. Gently stretch it to the edge of the tray. Leave it to rest for half an hour, pulling it back to the edges again if need be.
Grease your hands lightly, then press your fingers into the dough about three centimetres apart – larger fingers work better for this, otherwise you may need to go over the holes again later. Make the brine by stirring together half a teaspoon of salt and 50ml lukewarm water until dissolved, then brush this all over the dough and its dimples. Rest for 45 minutes.
Heat the oven to 220C (fan 210C)/450F/gas 8. After the dough has proved, top it with the grapes, onions, bay and rosemary, and sprinkle with flaked sea salt.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the base is crisp and golden brown, some of the grapes have burst, the onions are softened and the rosemary and bay leaves are crisp. Add the pared lemon, a little more oil and salt, then move the focaccia to the top shelf and bake for a further five to seven minutes.
Remove from the oven and drizzle over more oil. Leave to cool for five to 10 minutes, then use a fish slice or a spatula to lift it out of the tin. Slice it when warm or at room temperature.