I like working with herbs when cooking or baking. I especially love how they can work wonders on the simplest of dishes. With just a few fragrant sprigs, each herb can add that special and distinct flavour. The Italians’ focaccia bread is one good example—the herbs added to the dough make it delightful to eat even on its own!
My father is a proud caretaker of our mini herb garden at home. We grow a few everyday cooking herbs like oregano, basil, and rosemary. I love smelling them in the morning and touching their leaves just to make my fingers smell wonderful. If you are a passionate cook and have a small space to spare, I really encourage you to grow your own herbs. If you are interested in starting your own mini herb garden, do check out and join our Plant, Grow, Eat: An Urban Gardening Starter workshop. You’ll be amazed how a small amount of these fresh leaves can make a difference to your home-cooked meals. Of course, you can always work with the dried variant but do keep in mind that it is more potent. I usually add three times the amount of fresh herbs as dry.
Focaccia is one of my all-time-favourite breads to bake at home. It needs basic bread-making techniques and creates this mouthwatering aroma while in the oven. It almost taste like pizza with the sweet caramelised onions on top. Serve this delicious bread with a simple salad or a bowl of pasta. Better yet, fill it with greens and deli for a light yet satisfying lunch!
If you are keen to learn more, join our Basic Knead: Beginners to Bread workshop.
- Digital weighing scale
- Stand mixer with dough hook attachment
- Measuring spoons
- Mixing bowls
- Silicone spatula
- Dough scraper
- Plastic wrap
- Chef’s knife
- Chopping board
- Rolling pin
- Baking tray (38cm x 25cm)
- Pastry brush
- Frypan or skillet
- Cooling rack
Biga (makes 180g)
- 114g bread flour
- 2g (½ tsp) active dry yeast
- 67g water
- 430g bread flour plus extra for dusting
- 3g active dry yeast
- 31g olive oil plus extra for brushing
- 10g salt
- 281g water
- 180g biga
- ½ tsp fresh thyme, chopped
- ½ tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
- 15g garlic, minced
Caramelised onions and toppings
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 1 white onion, sliced thinly
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- Sea salt and extra rosemary for sprinkling on top
- Make you biga ahead of time as you need to ferment it for several hours. Prepare it by combining your bread flour, yeast, and water in a bowl.
- Mix and knead with your hands just until everything is well combined. Form it into a ball then transfer it into a lightly oiled bowl.
- Cover your bowl with plastic wrap and let your biga ferment at room temperature for about 8 hours. Chill it until ready to use.
- To make your bread dough, place the bread flour and yeast in a bowl. Set aside.
- In another bowl, combine your olive oil, salt, and water then add it to your dry ingredients. Mix everything together using your hand or a silicone spatula. This will ensure that your wet and dry ingredients are properly combined before you start kneading the dough using the mixer.
- Fit the mixer bowl into your stand mixer and begin kneading at medium speed. While mixing, add in pieces of your biga into the dough mixture.
- Once all your biga has been added, continue mixing until your dough is smooth and elastic. Do the windowpane test to ensure your dough has been kneaded well.
- Scrape the dough out of the bowl, place it on a lightly floured worktop, then start kneading in your herbs and garlic evenly. Shape it into a ball, place it in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it ferment for 45 minutes.
- While waiting, start cooking your caramelised onions. Combine your butter and oil in a small skillet on low heat. Add in your sliced onions and cook for about 3 minutes.
- When the onions have turned translucent, stir in some sugar, then cook for a few more minutes or until the onions are golden. Set the cooked onions aside to cool.
- Once your dough has doubled in size, place it on a lightly oiled baking tray then use your fingers to stretch out the dough, forming it into a rectangle. Alternatively, you can also use a rolling pin to flatten out the dough on a lightly floured worktop.
- Brush your shaped dough with olive oil, cover it with plastic wrap, then let it proof for 30 minutes.
- After proofing, use your forefinger to create dimples on your bread dough then let it continue to proof for another 15 minutes.
- Preheat your oven at 200C. Drizzle the top of your proofed dough with olive oil then top it with caramelised onions, fresh rosemary, and sea salt.
- Bake your focaccia for 15 to minutes or until top has turned golden. After baking, transfer it on a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Slice your focaccia bread into 12 squares or into strips and enjoy it with a simple dip made of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and herbs. Personally, I love turning it into delicious sandwiches!