Focaccia. It’s one of the greats when it comes to bread. Italy has quite a few of my favorite breads, and I think they generally are just on point when it comes to carbs. I have been to Italy, and while I had at least a sandwich on focaccia while I was there, don’t think I enjoyed any fresh from the oven just in it’s crisp warm glory. What am I even doing with my life?
Some bakers are intimidated by bread, and I see why it is and can be viewed that way. However, in some ways I think bread is easier than a lot of bakes because there is often less steps and ingredients. Generally all you need is flour, salt, water and yeast. So there are less places to go wrong, granted if you go wrong your bread may not work at all. But, focaccia is a flat bread which I personally feel flatbreads are a little easier because you don’t have to worry about the rise AS much. And.. you get to play with the dough before you put it in the oven. The dimpling of the bread is the best part, and anyone who tells you differently is LYING.
Focaccia is also great because it’s so easy to add to it without having to worry about changing the structure or water content of the bread which can ruin a lot of dough. Simply place everything on top, almost like a pizza! This is an easy focaccia that doesn’t have to be kneaded or rested overnight.
So I love focaccia as it is, just olive oil and sea salt but adding just a little bit of herbs -whether they are fresh like rosemary, thyme, basil etc or dried of the same or something like herbs de Provence, you really can’t go wrong. Pan size, if you make this in a smaller pan it will be thicker (this one is already fairly thick) and it could be sliced in half (as if you were butterflying it) and made into a sandwich or panini bread. There are soo many options!
This CAN be made as an overnight version and it might be a little bit better. So if you have the time, and remember – this is always where I struggle. I would recommend making the dough the day before you want to bake it. With bread, time often equals flavor. So the longer a bread can rise it’s creating better flavor. By allowing the dough to cold ferment, it slows down the proofing process a lot, developing everything better. Now, if you don’t have 18+ hours, this bread is great in the 4-6 hours it takes as it. But overnight is even better.
What you will do is after the dough is mixed, cover the bowl well and put it into the fridge for 18-48 hours for the first rise. Everything else will be the same, however you should allow more time for your second rise as the dough will need to come to room temperature as well. I’d recommend probably 2-3 hours depending on the warmth of the environment. But everything else stays the same!
Can I use..
- All purpose flour – Yes! If you don’t have bread flour all purpose will work just fine. Generally the bread will just be a little bit softer and a little less chew.
- A different pan – Yes! For example this could be made in a cake pan or smaller sheet pan. The smaller the pan, the thicker the bread will be. I probably would not go any smaller than 9×13, and I wouldn’t bake it in anything glass like a 9×13 casserole dish as glass is a poor heat conductor.
Okay, now that I’m drooling, let’s get to the bread making.
- 625 g Bread Flour 5 cups
- 7 g Instant or Active dry yeast 2 1/4 tsp
- 1 tbsp Morton kosher salt
- 2 tsp Sugar
- 2 1/4 cups Water lukewarm (~95-100F)
- 6 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil divided
- 1 tbsp Unsalted butter optional
- Flaky Sea Salt
- Fresh or dried herbs
- If you are using active dry yeast, combine the yeast, sugar and water in bowl. Stir and let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.
- If using instant yeast, combine flour, sugar, salt, water and yeast into a bowl and mix until combined. When adding ingredients, make sure to not place the salt directly on top of the yeast. The dough will be very loose and shaggy.
- Add 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil into the dough bowl, mixing in completely so dough is saturated with oil. Drizzle another tbsp of oil over the top. Cover the bowl and let sit in a warm place for about 3-4 hours, OR place in the refrigerator for 12-48 hours. The dough is ready when it has doubled in size.
- Prepare your pan. For thicker bread, use a 9×13" cake or sheet pan, for thinner use up to a 13×18" pan. If your pan is not nonstick, greasing it with the tbsp of butter can help the center and corners not stick. If it is non-stick feel free to skip butter, then add 1 tbsp of olive oil into the center of the pan.
- Take your dough and fold up the edges like you are closing a box. Bringing each side into the center, creating more of a ball shape, and gently deflating the dough.
- Transfer your dough into the sheet pan and dump any oil from the dough bowl into the pan as well. Cover the pan with cling wrap that has been greased and leave in a warm place to double in size. This could take 1-4 hours depending on the air temperature and how your dough rose. Overnight proofing will result in colder dough that will take closer to 3-4 hours. The dough is ready when it no longer instantly springs back when poked, and it will have grown and be reaching the edges of the pan if not already completely filling.
- Preheat oven to 425°F
- Oil your hands and use your fingers to both gently push dough to the edges of the pan where it has not reached. Then, the most fun part of making focaccia, dimpling the dough. Use your fingers to press down into the dough, leaving dimples over the entire surface.
- After dough is dimpled, drizzle 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil over dough then sprinkle flaky sea salt. Sprinkle with fresh herbs (or dried) of your choice. Rosemary, Thyme, Basil or Oregano are all good choices. Herbs are not required but a nice addition. The focaccia is wonderful just with the olive oil and salt.
- Bake the focaccia on the middle rack of your oven for about 25 minutes. Bread is done when it is evenly golden brown. Big air bubbles in the dough may brown more quickly but you want the majority of the surface to be golden.
- Wait at least 10 minutes before cutting into your bread, but bread can be enjoyed warm. Store in an airtight container any remaining bread.
- If you are using Diamond Crystal kosher salt, or another brand you may want to google an equivalence. Even though they are the same type of salt the size varies greatly and can create a bread that is not salty enough or way too salty.