HOME-baked focaccia bread is a cool way to break open the picnic basket.

It is pitted with olives or sun-dried tomatoes with the added richness of olive-oil, sea salt crunch and rosemary aromas.

Being light and open-textured, it is more suitable than a large wholemeal loaf.

For such a tender flatbread this Italian bread is good-natured enough to travel well and not break or shatter in the boot of your car.

As a sandwich bread, focaccia can be split down the centre in the meadow or on a riverbank - you don’t even need a knife.

Then it is piled as you please with slices of salami, black olives, tomatoes, crunchy cucumber and as many salad leaves as you fancy.

So, as bread goes, focaccia in its simplest form is one of the easiest to make. There’s no shaping required, and very little kneading.

It’s just a case of working the dough, allowing time to rest, dimpling, topping and more dimpling with your fingers, then filling in the pot holes with olive oil, scattering over the rosemary, sitting back and allowing time for the amazing development of flavours to happen.

Now for a short history. This ancient, basic bread is an early prototype of the modern day pizza.

This beloved Italian bread is thought by some to have originated from the Etruscans or Ancient Greeks prior to the Roman Empire forming.

In those times it was common practice to dot the bread using a finger as a way to preserve moisture within the bread. Olive oil is then drizzled over the dough and it is baked on the hearth of the hot fire.

This is where its Latin name ‘’focacius’’ is derived from, the bread being baked in the ashes in the centre of the fireplace rather than on a tray above the fire.

The Romans made the bread for dipping: it was torn by hand and dipped into salty soups, which doesn’t sound very appetizing today.

Back then focaccia bread was cheap and a filling meal for people who were doing a hard day’s labour.

Focaccia bread was used extensively by slaves in the Roman Empire and the stigma still exits today – it is considered a daily bread, and is also used extensively by the Catholic church during religious festivities.

Today it is no longer strictly the preserve of Italian communities, and focaccia bread can be found in almost any baker’s shop or supermarket around the world.

Sun-dried tomato focaccia bread recipe


500g/1lb 2oz strong bread flour

10g/1/2 oz salt

20g/1oz sugar

3 tablespoons good olive oil

Small tin of tomato puree or tube of double concentrate

200ml/7fl oz tepid water, approximately

25g/1oz fresh yeast

280g jar dried sun-dried Italian tomato antipaste or cherry tomatoes to pit

More olive oil to drizzle

Sprinkle of rock salt

Fresh or dried rosemary to scatter over


1. In a large mixing bowl add the flour, salt, sugar, tomato puree and olive oil.

2. In a measuring jug weigh in the water, add the yeast and dissolve.

3. Add to the mixing bowl.

4. Using your hands, form a soft dough.

5. Knead well on a lightly floured work surface, giving the dough a good stretch to develop the gluten for eight minutes till smooth and springy.

6. Return the dough back to the bowl.

7. Cover with a tea towel.

8. Allow to rise for an hour until double.

9. Heavily oil a 20cm/28cm rectangle shallow roasting tin, ideally with a lip around the sides.

10. Punch down the dough in the bowl.

11. Tip into the baking tray.

12. Flatten and stretch the corners.

13. Leave to rise and puff up for 30 minutes.

14. Preheat the oven to 200c/Gas Mark 6.

15. Using your fingers, dimple the bread.

16. Drizzle over olive oil.

17. Pit the sun-dried tomatoes into the holes.

18. Lightly sprinkle over the rock salt and rosemary.

19. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.

20. Once baked, drizzle more olive oil over.

21. Serve with pasta or as a meal on its own.