This is my simple, easy focaccia bread recipe, and I think you’ll like it as much as my I do. A fresh loaf is versatile and enjoyed so many ways – it’s not a laborious challenge and is within anyone’s reach with minimal effort. You can pay a lot for a really good loaf from a specialty bakery, and even less at the supermarket. But there’s nothing like a homemade loaf with customized toppings straight out of your oven. Fresh, aromatic, warm and delicious, and made for pennies – enjoy focaccia with soup, pasta, a one-pot meal or sandwich and panini. Keep in mind focaccia is perishable, in the sense that it doesn’t stay fresh very long – it’s best enjoyed the same day baked, though next-day leftovers are delicious toasted…and perfect for panini.

This is a sticky dough, so I recommend using an electric mixer bowl with a dough hook attachment for mixing and kneading. In a pinch, you can mix the dough by hand (see the variation at the end of the recipe).

Seasoned with high quality olive oil for optimum flavor, focaccia can be adorned with a variety of toppings, such as rosemary (a classic favorite), onion, garlic, cheese, and oil-cured black olives (see variation, below). A rimmed baking pan may also be used; the dough can be patted into all 4 corners…if you like.

Focaccia can be baked as a free form oval on a sheet pan, pressed into square or round pans, or shaped into rolls.

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Focaccia Bread

Makes 1 large flat loaf

 

2 1/4  teaspoons active dry yeast

1 1/4  cups warm water (110 degrees F.)

1  tablespoon sugar

7  tablespoons or more extra-virgin olive oil, divided

3 3/4  cups bread flour, plus more for dusting

2  teaspoons fine salt

1 1/2  tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves

Few pinches kosher salt – Optional

 

Pour the water in a heatproof measuring cup or a bowl. Add the yeast, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and the sugar. Stir gently, cover and let proof for 10 to 15 minutes. Combine the flour and salt, and add to a work bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with dough hook attachment. Pour the yeast mixture into the bowl and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix on medium-low speed until combined, about 3 minutes. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Continue mixing on medium to medium-high speed until the dough comes together and is smooth and springy. Dust your hands with flour and remove the dough (it will be sticky). Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, knead lightly a few times and form a mound. Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

Coat the bottom of a large baking pan with about 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a large oval shape (about 15 by 11-inches) or roughly the shape of your pan. Gently fold the dough in half and transfer to the prepared pan (draping it over a rolling pin helps). Cover loosely, sealing with plastic wrap. Let rest in a warm place until puffy, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Remove the plastic wrap and dimple the top of the dough with your fingertip. Brush the dough with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with the chopped rosemary and if desired, kosher salt. For other various toppings, see Cook’s Note (below). If using olives, lightly press the cut sides down just into the surface of the dough. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a deep golden color. Cool on a wire rack. To store, cover with plastic wrap for up to 2 days.

Variations:

1. To mix the dough by hand, use a large bowl, stirring with a spatula until the dough comes together. Form a mound and knead on a lightly floured work surface until smooth and springy, about 10 minutes. Form a mound, and place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and proceed in the same manner as above.

2. To make focaccia rolls (use full or half recipe): Cut the dough into golf ball size (or smaller) pieces and roll into balls. Place a ball in a lightly oiled muffin cup or a baking pan, spaced about ½ inch apart (for pull-apart style). Cover loosely, securing the sides with plastic wrap; let rest for about 30 minutes. Brush the tops with oil and sprinkle with rosemary. Bake 15 to 18 minutes, until a deep golden color. Cool on a wire rack.

3. Toppings – Although rosemary is customary for optimum flavor, another popular topping is oil-cured black olives, (about 15) pitted and halved – lightly press the cut sides down just into the surface of the dough. Caramelized onions, garlic, Parmesan cheese, coarse salt etc. are also common toppings.

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