Sometimes, I have the itch to bake bread, like this week. It’s my favorite genre of baking! I enjoy the challenge of leavening with yeast and the delicious results from a few hours of waiting! There’s something special about making something completely with your hands–mixing, kneading, shaping, scoring. Not only do you have fun getting your hands in the bread, but you also learn the feel of the dough and get the satisfying result of a tasty, fragrant loaf that you made yourself.
This recipe has been on a bit of a journey. I was originally going to make this dough into a free-form rosemary loaf, but since I added a lot of water, it became rather sticky. Wet, sticky doughs are perfect for focaccias, so I naturally decided to make it into a focaccia instead. The flavor of the rosemary and olive oil go really well together, and it tastes especially great when dipped into a bowl of olive oil flavored with black pepper. Yum!
Here’s a quick tip: focaccia is pronounced foh-CATCH-ee-ah by most English speakers. Italians pronounce it foh-CATCH-ah.
Since the dough is quite wet, be prepared for sticky hands. Don’t be tempted to add extra flour or cut back on the water–the dough must be very sticky in order to get the irregular-sized air holes and light texture of the finished focaccia. The best way to reduce the stickiness is to knead your bread dough with olive oil instead of flour. You will need your bench scraper for this recipe! 😉
This focaccia recipe is definitely something you need to try! If you’re looking for a hearty soup that pairs well with this bread, try our turkey noodle soup. It’s a great combination!Print
For the Dough
- 5 cups bread flour (500g)
- 1 Tbsp. fast-action yeast (10g)
- 2 tsp. salt (10g)
- 3 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1/2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
- 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 3/4 cup room-temperature water (400ml)
- Extra virgin olive oil, for oiling and drizzling
For the Decoration
- 8-10 small sprigs of fresh rosemary
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Several cracks of black pepper
Making the Dough
- Put the flour in a large bowl, adding the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl. Stir in each with your finger.
- Stir in the chopped fresh rosemary and black pepper.
- Add the olive oil and 3/4 of the water to the mix. Stir with your hand until the dough starts to come together. Gradually add the rest of the water to get a very sticky dough.
- Knead the dough on a well-oiled surface for about 10 minutes. The dough should be thoroughly mixed and very stretchy. It will still be extremely sticky after kneading.
- First Prove: Put the dough in a rectangular plastic tub that has been thoroughly greased with olive oil and cover with oiled plastic wrap. Let the dough prove until at least doubled in size, which should take about an hour.
Shaping the Focaccia
- Line a 11×17 inch cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Turn out the proved dough onto the cookie sheet.
- With oiled hands, form the dough into a large rectangle by pushing the dough down with your fingertips to create the characteristic dimples. Don’t be light-handed; push all the way down to create deep dimples. Try to get the dough as large as you can.
- Lightly drizzle the dough all over with olive oil.
- Cover the dough with oiled plastic wrap and let it rest for 20 minutes to relax the gluten strands and make it easier to shape the focaccia.
- Push the dough into the corners of the cookie sheet with oiled hands. Dimple the whole focaccia with your fingertips also. Don’t worry if it doesn’t get all the way into the corners; you just want a large, rectangular loaf.
- Drizzle again with olive oil.
- Second Prove: Cover the dough with oiled plastic wrap and let it prove again for 40 minutes. It should spring back when lightly pressed.
Baking the Focaccia
- About 15 minutes before the second prove is done, preheat the oven to 425 F.
- Just before baking, sprinkle on kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Decorate with a few small sprigs of fresh rosemary.
- Bake at 425 F for 20-25 minutes, until the loaf is risen and well browned on top and bottom.
- Let the focaccia cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack.
Serving the Focaccia
- Make the flavored olive oil dipping sauce. Fill a small bowl with extra virgin olive oil and garnish with several cracks of black pepper, to taste.
- Slice the focaccia into rectangular strips and serve warm with the olive oil dipping sauce.