Introduction: Focaccia Bread Recipe

Picture of Focaccia Bread Recipe

Focaccia is one of my favorite breads - I've tried making it for years and I've always failed because I wanted to take shortcuts. I was standing in line at the grocery store a few weeks ago when I looked over and saw that Cook's Illustrated had a "All-Time Best Bread Recipes" issue out. I checked the back and it had a focaccia recipe! SOLD!!

Since I bought it I've been happily cranking out loaf after loaf of focaccia, and I wanted to share my slightly modified recipe here so you guys can have endless focaccia too.

This focaccia recipe is no-knead - meaning it takes more patience and time - but that also means the recipe is close to fool-proof for all you beginner bakers out there. :D

Step 1: Ingredients + Tools

Picture of Ingredients + Tools

For the biga starter:

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup warm water (110 F)
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant or active dry yeast

For the dough:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour + extra for dusting your work surface
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (110 F)
  • 1 teaspoon instant or active dry yeast
  • few tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • fresh or dried herbs of choice for sprinkling on top - woody herbs are best!

Tools:

  • 2 round cake pans or springform pans (9 inches)
  • baking stone OR and overturned baking sheet
  • cooling racks
  • plastic wrap

Step 2: Make the Biga

Picture of Make the Biga

The base of this bread is a biga. It's a little like a sourdough starter, but the main difference is that biga is made fresh with every batch of bread.

To make the biga, combine:

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup warm water (110 F)
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant or active dry yeast

Stir these ingredients together in a medium sized bowl until they're nice and smooth and no dry lumps remain. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for 8-24 hours. (Cook's Illustrated also says you can store it in the fridge for up to three days, as long as you let it come back up to room temperature before using.)

I highly recommend letting the biga rest for the full 24 hours - I've done it for 8, 12, and 24 hours so far and the 24 hour biga made the best tasting focaccia.

Step 3: Starting the Dough

Picture of Starting the Dough

In a large bowl, combine your biga mixture, 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon yeast, and 1 1/4 cups warm water (110 F). Stir until no dry spots remain and cover with plastic wrap.

Let sit for 15 minutes.

Sprinkle over 2 teaspoons of salt and then mix the dough well for a minute or so until the salt is incorporated.

Cover the bowl again with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes to rise at room temperature.

Step 4: Letting the Dough Rise + Preheating

Picture of Letting the Dough Rise + Preheating

After the initial rise you just finished, you'll being folding and then rising the dough in 30 minute windows. This is taking the place of kneading.

Spray a spatula with cooking spray and use it to fold a small amount of the dough on the sides over into the center. You will do this eight times, turning the bowl as you go, until the dough has been entirely folded over on itself.

Now cover with the plastic wrap let it rise for 30 minutes.

Repeat the folding and rising process two more times.

During the last rise, place a baking stone or an upside down baking sheet in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 500 F.

Step 5: Prep Dough and Pans

Picture of Prep Dough and Pans

Flour your counter lightly and transfer the dough to it. Flour the top of the dough lightly as well. Divide the dough in half.

Add 1-2 tablespoons of oil to your pans and rub it around with your hands until the bottom and lower sides are well covered.

Shape the dough halves into small rounds by tucking the sides of the top under. Place them into the pans top side down and swirl them around until they're well coated and then flip them over so the bottom is down and swirl that around as well. This will coat both sides of the dough with oil.

Let the dough rest in the pans for 5 minutes - the dough will spread out as it rests.

Step 6: Shape the Dough

Picture of Shape the Dough

Press the dough down into the pan using your fingers. Make sure it's flattening out and reaching all sides of the pan.

If you're having issues getting it to stretch, let it rest for 5-10 minutes and try again.

Once the dough has taken on the shape of the pan, use a fork to prick the dough all over. Pop any large air bubbles you see!

Now you'll sprinkle the dough with whatever herbs you'd like - I used dried rosemary.

Once that's done, let the dough rise a little and get some small bubbles. This will take 5-10 minutes.

Step 7: Baking + Storing

Picture of Baking + Storing

Place the cake pans on top of the baking stone or upside down baking sheet and turn the oven down to 450 F.

Bake until the bread is golden brown on top, 25-30 minutes.

Once the bread is done, remove it from the oven and let it cool on racks in the pans for 5 minutes. Then remove the bread from the pans and let them continue to cool on the racks for about 30 minutes. (If you have any extra oil in the bottoms of the pans, brush it over the top!)

This bread can be stored wrapped in plastic wrap for a couple days, but it's hardly lasted that long for us so far. It's too good to leave sitting around. :P

Comments

audreyobscura (author)2016-08-16

Dang Jessy, this looks delicious. I found this when I was looking for a flatbread recipe that doesn't use yeast but I'm just gonna have to try this one anyways. Yum.

It takes FOREVER but it is super worth it :D

this bread + tomato soup = YUM

jlathem56 (author)2014-12-06

Thank you for this recipe. I am not a frequent bread maker and the attempts I have made failed miserably. I can't even make pizza dough from a box!

But following this I made the best tasting bread I have eaten in a long time.

If anyone reading this feels intimidated please don't be. Just follow the directions and you can't go wrong!

I can see how the bread wouldn't last long around the house. Using thinly sliced turkey I made a sandwich for dinner and had to go back for seconds.
This bread reminds me of bread from Schlotzsky's bread. Yum yum.

kiwi-makes-things2000 (author)2014-12-02

I can't wait to make this!Thanks for sharing this recipe!

sunshiine (author)2014-12-02

I am going to make this as soon as I get the time! It looks so delicious and beautiful. Thanks for sharing Jessy. Have a great week!

sunshiine~

Solko (author)2014-11-29

if you want there's also another variant =)

http://www.yummly.com/recipe/Apulian-Focaccia-Bread-531797?columns=6&position=45%2F63

Divya sooraj (author)2014-11-26

I started baking very recently and I m loving it......this recipe looks very long bt interesting so would surely love to try....thnks

BirgitJansen (author)2014-11-24

Thanks for the great instructions, I definitely going to try this. :-) But one question. Why the baking stone/upside baking sheet? What happens if you put the pans in the oven just like that?

It's the best way to get a crisp bottom and exterior! Because you can't really throw the pans in to preheat before because since you're doing all the rising in them, the preheated baking sheet/stone will ensure the olive oil heats up fast enough to make it happen. :)

Doing it without will just result in soggier bottoms, and more of the oil will be present at the end.

Makes sense. Thanks for explaining, can't wait to try! :-)

a low cost substitute for a baking stone is to go to Lowes or Home Depot and pick up one or two large (12" or 16") UNGLAZED ceramic tile. Only costs a couple of bucks and even though they're kind of fragile, they do an excellent job of maintaining temperatures. Vital for an apartment sized or RV oven!

Yummy sounding recipe!

dustandroses (author)2014-11-26

Looks good. I bet it taste good with cheese and tea.

garethllewelyn (author)2014-11-25

Great recipe, great bread.

The period described for the time spent being mixed dough but without the salt (15-20 mins) is called "Autolase" and is a much misunderstood part of bread making.

It is VITAL, the gluten forms long chains in the dough which improve the taste and texture of the bread before the salt is added.

Yumbles.

Groaker (author)2014-11-25

Another way to help make this crispy is to make holes in the dough by drawing your fingers through the dough, and leaving multiple oblong holes in the dough. This can be done irregularly. Or, the dough can by shaped as in the form of a Christmas tree. There is an Italian name for this form, but I have forgotten it.

In addition to the herbs, you can add just about anything you like to the dough. Red onions, sliced olives, roasted peppers, or any kind of cheese that you like. I am fond of Asagio. Garlic is a real plus. Think of it as a low add on pizza that is served as an accompaniment to a meal rather than as a meal.

marciocattini (author)2014-11-25

Yeah that's the issue with breads and cakes... taking shortcuts just doesn't cut it...

Still foccacia's one of the easiest breads to make, I may be a good cook but no matter how easy the bread/cake recipe I tend to find ways to screw it up.

Will give it a try this weekend though =) thanks for the nice 'ible!

chabias (author)2014-11-25

That looks SO good!

pmantova (author)2014-11-25

Droool!

t.rohner (author)2014-11-25

Hi Jessy

This certainly looks ultra-yummie.

Some "smartass" comments from my hobbybakers soul...

A biga is more of a dry preferment. What you have here, looks more like a "poolish" preferment. I always make "poolish" preferments, because i can add all the water to the preferment, simplifying the process.

One of my favourite bakers around here makes a "Bible bread" with olives and capers. From what he tells me, it's a mixed sourdough/yeast bread... but i'm not sure about the sourdough component. He tends to keep the receipes to himself. He also makes a onion bread with the same dough, with the onions sauteed in olive oil, before he adds it into the dough. To die for....

As i said before in my baking ibles, give it time, it makes such a difference. If you want irregular and big bubbles in your crumb, make a extremely wet dough with long fermenting time.(reduce the yeast amount)

I just made some black "Grissinis" lately with carbon powder. The color doesn't change the taste in the beginning, but after a week, the uncolored are tastier. I guess, the carbon sucks up the taste of the dough and olive oil.

Buy, read, steal or download the books from Peter Reinhart and Jeffrey Hamelman. Or if you happen to read German, buy, .... the book from Lutz Geissler. These Books are revelationts...

Keep on baking, there's nothing like it.

lindarose92 (author)2014-11-25

Wow, this looks like a high-quality Italian focaccia! I always make "shorter" focaccia recipes because I don't have the patience to wait for so long, but after seeing your result I think I will try your recipe soon! :D

kakashibatosi (author)2014-11-24

I love focaccia! When it's done, I like dipping it in a mixture of olive oil and red wine vinegar. It's also good to make with feta cheese and rock salt on top. Maybe I'll try folding in some roasted garlic bits. What variations have you tried?

I've actually just been so excited about delicious bread I haven't messed with it much yet. I spent most of my time trying out different salt amounts, ha. :D

Though I also have been considering adding some roasted garlic to it - or maybe some black olives! yummmmmmm

I don't own a cake pan or anything of the sort, so I'm going to risk it with either a second cookie sheet or perhaps my larger pyrex dish. The dish is rather thick though, so I have my doubts about crispiness given how long it will take to heat up.

I bet you could just do one large loaf on a cookie sheet! I haven't tried it yet so you'd need to figure out the timing, but I bet it wouldn't take much longer to cook at all since it's so thin. :)

I think you may be right about the Pyrex though. Boo.

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Bio: part of the Instructables Design Studio by day, stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @makingjiggy to see what i'm working on! ^_^
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