Easy Soda ‘Focaccia’ with Red Onions, Olives and Rosemary

From our ‘Meet the Expert’ Rachel Allen

Makes 1 Loaf


  • 450g (1lb) plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Half tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 400ml (14fl.oz) buttermilk or sour milk (for dairy free, see tip below)
  • 1 red onion, cut into 8 wedges
  • 12 black or green olives, stones removed
  • A few sprigs of rosemary, broken into 12 little pieces
  • A good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, about 50-75ml (2-3fl.oz)
  • Sea salt flakes


  1. Preheat the oven to 230’C.
  2. Brush the inside of a small Swiss roll tin generously with olive oil.
  3. Sift the dry ingredients, and make a well in the centre.
  4. Pour most of the milk in at once. Using one hand, shaped like a claw mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more buttermilk if necessary.
  5. The dough should be soft and a bit wet and sticky.
  6. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a floured board, turn over in the flour once but making sure not to knead it in any way or you will make it tough, and gently roll it out so that it will fit into the Swiss roll tin.
  7. Transfer into the tin using your two hands.
  8. Make dimples with the tips of your fingers, to make little wells for the olive oil.
  9. Place the red onion wedges, the olives and the rosemary sprigs on the raw dough, pressing them all down gently so that they don’t fall off the bread when it is baked.
  10. Drizzle generously with olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt.
  11. Bake in a hot oven 230C\450F\ gas mark 8 for about 25-30 minutes or until cooked.
  12. When cooked, the bread should be nice and golden on top and on the bottom.
  13. If the bread gets a good golden colour and you don’t want it to darken anymore, while cooking, turn the oven down to 200’C and continue cooking.
  14. When the Focaccia is cooked but still hot, drizzle a little more olive oil over the top.
  15. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Tip, If you want to make this dairy free replace the buttermilk/ sour milk with the same amount of almond, rice or soy milk to which you’ve added 1 tbsp vinegar

Recipe and image courtesy of Rachel Allen.