Focaccia, oh wonderful focaccia. It has been one of my favorite breads since I first tried it about 25 years ago. I was on a business trip and having dinner at this Italian restaurant. They brought out a basket of bread and some olive oil. It was different from all the rolls and bread with butter I was used to getting in restaurants. I took one bite and that was it. I am sure I ate two baskets of focaccia that evening. I do not even remember the dinner. All I cared about was the bread.
It was a while before I saw focaccia in my area. The south had to catch up. Biscuits, cornbread, and white bread prevailed. Then I started to see it offered by restaurants and occasionally in bakeries and grocery stores. I always wanted to make it but for what ever reason I did not. That is until I received a tweet from Shulie about baking focaccia in May for Breaking Bread. It was the perfect reason for me to make it.
I looked for a simple recipe. There were some I found where it took a couple of days to make and had many steps. I thought I would wait to use one of those recipes later. The recipe I chose is one from King Arthur Flour. I liked that it had a touch of whole wheat flour as an ingredient. I adapted the recipe to add toppings and to reflect my method.
My first attempt was not successful. I overworked the dough. It came out of the oven tough and too thin. I had to re-group and think about the texture of focaccia. It should be light and airy and not dense or chewy. I realized kneading it with my stand mixer was a mistake. This is a bread that needs be done by hand.
The second attempt was a great success. It came out exactly how I wanted. My husband said it was as good as or better than any he has had in the finest of restaurants. It was thick enough to where I could slice it and use it for sandwiches or paninis. It disappeared quick. The good thing is because it is so easy I can make focaccia often. I see many variations with different toppings in the future.
I chose rosemary for the topping. The scent of rosemary is incredible. I have a large bush in my front yard and I will walk by and rub my hands on it. I clip it often and use it whenever a recipe calls for fresh herbs. The flavor is as nice as the smell. It can get overwhelming so be careful of the amount you use in cooking and baking. Use the amount to your preference for this recipe.
Do you like to bake bread? If so, be sure to check out this post on the Breaking Bread Society. Lora, Shulie, and Marnley have started this wonderful initiative to inspire people to bake bread. Thank you ladies for inspiring me to make focaccia for the first time. It was a great experience and I learned more about baking.
Special thanks to tbg design for the beautiful artwork created for this post.
- 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar or honey
- 1 cup warm water 110 to 115 degrees F
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus or minus as needed
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Fresh rosemary about 1 to 2 tablespoons, chopped
- Sea salt
- Fresh ground/cracked pepper
In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the water. Add 1/4 cup of the all-purpose flour and whisk to combine. Let yeast mixture sit for 10 minutes to activate yeast.
Add the salt and the whole wheat flour. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Add the all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring after each addition until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough, adding more flour as necessary, until the dough has formed a smooth ball. Place the dough in a oiled bowl and turn to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Let the dough rise in a draft-free place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until doubled in bulk.
Grease a half-sheet pan (10 X 13 X 1-inch) and drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil on the pan. Place the dough on the pan and gently stretch to fit the pan. Let the dough rise for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F while the dough is rising. After the second rise, dimple it with your fingers. Drizzle the remaining olive oil on the dough. Top with chopped fresh rosemary, sea salt, and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned and cooked through. Cool on rack. Slice into rectangles or squares.
A recipe for focaccia bread made with fresh rosemary.