Focaccia with Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Basil

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This delicious bread adapts a Genoese focaccia recipe and begins with creating a ‘sponge’ starter. Traditionally focaccia is made with with a high gluten wheat flour, extra virgin olive oil, yeast, herbs, spices, sea salt & pepper. By adding spelt we add to the digestibility and complex carbohydrates.

It is important to allow the longer fermentation times to allow the flavour to develop and reduce the yeasty taste. The dough need to be moist and shiny, with a generous amount of olive oil in the dough itself and coating the tray and bread at each stage. The ‘brine’ a mixture of olive oil, water, sea salt and wine gives the airy texture and golden crust and is the best way to incorporate the salt throughout the dough.

Sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil are still rich in vitamin C with 100g covering the daily requirement. Packed in olive oil means the fat-soluble carotenoids such as lycopene are better absorbed increasing their anti-inflammatory action and protecting against cancer and heart disease.

A combination of fresh and dried basil is used to increase the flavour profile. The fresh red basil used here increases the amount of available anthocyanin, provitamin A, vitamins C & K and omega-3 fatty acids.

Credit: Ceri, Zenxin Master Chef

Key facts:

  • Preparation: 10+30+8+60+30 mins
  • Cooking time: 25 mins
  • Total: 163 mins
  • Serves: 10-12


Sponge starter:

  • 2½ tsp (1 pkt) active dry yeast
  • 2/3 cup warm water (~40.5 °C)
  • 1 cup (140g) unbleached organic bread flour


  • ½ cup warm filtered water, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup dry organic white wine
  • 1/3 cup ‘Simply Natural’ Spanish organic cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp ‘Simply Natural’ French sea salt
  • 2½ cups unbleached organic bread flour
  • 1 cup organic spelt flour
  • ½ cup ‘la Bio Idea’ sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 tsp ‘Simply Natural’ organic dried basil
  • A handful of organic fresh red basil


  • Drizzle of extra virgin cold-pressed Spanish organic olive oil
  • 2 pinches of French sea salt sprinkled over the dough
1. Sprinkle yeast over lukewarm water in large bowl.
2. Let stand for 10 mins till frothy.
3. Stir in first cup of unbleached flour and whisk until smooth.
4. Cover and let rise for 30 mins, this forms the ‘sponge’
5. Add salt to the water, whisk in the wine and olive oil, add to sponge.
6. Add 1 cup of flour stirring gently, then gradually add in the rest of the flour until you have a soft sticky dough.
7. If too sticky, add a little more flour and knead in the bowl for 8 minutes until silky and shiny. The dough should be still soft but not wet.
8. Cover the dough and allow to rise for 1 hr, until it has roughly doubled in size.
9. Add in the fresh & dried basil and sun-dried tomatoes, kneading to integrate.
10. Preheat the oven to 220 °C & line the baking sheet with baking paper.
11. For the third rise gently stretch and press the soft airy dough to fill the tray.
12. Cover again and leave to rise for another 30 minutes or until the mass has doubled.
13. Dimple dough using your fingers, drizzle with olive oil & sprinkle with sea salt.
14. Place in an oven preheated to 220 °C, then reduce to 200 °C.
15. Bake for 25 minutes.
16. Spray the oven with water at 10 min intervals for a crisp crust.
17. Remove when golden and enjoy while still hot!
N.B. This is delicious served with fresh hummus.

The Ingedients:

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