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Wholewheat Za’atar Focaccia

Serves 8-12
Prep time: 15 min
Chill time: 8 to 72 hours (it’s up to you)
Proof time on the day: 45 mins to 1 hour
Baking time: 35 to 45 min

Extra virgin olive oil is swiftly claiming its dominance in the international culinary arena, transforming each sheet of focaccia bread into an irresistible baked good. And this doesn't come as a surprise: evoo infuses an otherwise basic bread with a vibrant burst of flavour. Each week, we see so many pictures on the Internet of pillowy bread creations crafted with Honest Toil. We hesitated to call this rich, Middle-East-inspired sheet bread focaccia because we used a soft and dark wholewheat instead of sharp white flour. Yet here we are. This beautiful, fibre-filled dipping bread delivers a seriously deep taste thanks to our special topping mix made of za’atar, dried garlic and nigella seeds.



7g (one sachet) active dry yeast

750 ml lukewarm water

500 g BL80 bread flour

250 g wholewheat flour

2 tbsp Honest Toil extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 tbsp for greasing

2 tsp fine sea salt


2 tbsp za’atar spice blend

4 tbsp Honest Toil extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for the tin

½ tsp dried garlic

½ tsp nigella seeds

¼ tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp flaky sea salt



One day (up to three days) before baking

  1. Combine the dry yeast, water, and 2 tbsp oil in a 6-litre or larger bowl. Add the flour, wholewheat flour, and salt, and mix with a fork until you’re left with a thick, sticky dough.

  2. Switch to mixing by hand until the dough looks smooth. We suggest oiling your hands first; that makes handling the dough so much easier. The dough will be sticky and loose, and that’s what it should look and feel like. If you feel like adding more flour, 50 grams should be the maximum amount.

  3. Once the dough looks smooth, roughly shape it into a ball. Drizzle two tablespoons of oil over the dough and lift it up so the oil gets underneath. This will help you get the dough out of the bowl after proofing.

  4. Cover the bowl and place it in the fridge overnight or for up to 3 days. The dough will slowly be proof in the fridge and double in size.
Overhead shot of a bowl of white liquid, bright green olive oil drops floating atop Loose dough ball in a glass bowl drizzled with olive oil

On the day of baking your za’atar focaccia

  1. Drizzle 2 tbsp oil over a 23 x 33 cm baking sheet or alternatively, you can line the base with parchment paper and then drizzle with a few glugs of oil.

  2. Deflate the dough by folding the edges of the dough away from the bowl and into the middle of the dough. Using a silicone spatula, tip the ball of dough out into the prepared tin and gently press and stretch it out the corners, not worrying that it perfectly fills the tin. It will spread out as it rises.

  3. Cover the tin and set the focaccia aside until it has doubled and is visibly bubbly on the surface with a generous wobble. This will take about 2-3 hours at room temperature and 45 minutes to 1 hour on a warm spot.

  4. Preheat the oven to 220ºC (200ºC fan).

  5. Prepare the topping: in a small bowl, combine the za’atar, dried garlic, nigella seeds and oil to a thick paste.

  6. Once proofed, drizzle the topping all over the risen dough and gently spread with your hands to cover the entire loaf. Use your fingers to dimple the loaf all over.

  7. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until golden brown, checking on it 15 minutes in. Remove from the oven and carefully remove from the tin, setting onto a wire rack to cool completely. Finish by sprinkling generously with flaked sea salt.
Dimpled focaccia dough before baking Golden-brown baked focaccia
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