One of my favorite breads of all times is focaccia. And that’s saying a lot because I love bread. Focaccia can be enjoyed as a simple, herby bread topped with rosemary, salt and olive oil.
And it’s delicious with lots of other toppings including my two favorites: chopped olives and caramelized red onions and feta.
If you’ve never tried homemade bread before, focaccia is a great place to start! It’s not tricky to make at all, but does take a little bit of time (it requires an initial rise before it is shaped, and once more in the pan before topping and baking). Focaccia is best served warm right from the oven. But it’s also delicious toasted for panini sandwiches. Not to mention it freezes really well (either baked and unbaked).
- 2 1/4 teaspoons or 1 envelope active dry yeast
- 2 cups warm water (you may not need to use it all)
- 4 cups flour (I use 3 cups all purpose and 1 cup white wheat flour)
- 2 teaspoons salt, plus more for topping
- 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil plus about 1/4 cup for topping and pans
- Kosher or sea salt, to taste
- 3 -4 sprigs Fresh rosemary
- 1 small red onion, sliced
- 1/4 teaspoon thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons olives, chopped
- Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a medium bowl. Wait a few minutes for the mixture to start to foam up.
- In the bowl or your mixer (or by hand) combine the 4 cups of flour with the salt. Add in the yeast, water, and 2 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil. If you are using a stand mixer, mix on medium-low until a round bowl of dough begins to form. Then turn it up to medium and knead the dough for about 5-7 minutes. You want a smooth, moist dough that isn't too sticky.
- Add another teaspoon or so of olive oil to a large bowl. Coat the ball of dough in the oil and place in the bowl then cover it with plastic wrap or a clean towel and set it aside it in a warm place until the dough to double in size. This could take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on the temperature in your kitchen.
- Prep you pan(s) for baking. Divide the dough in half. (You can freeze half for later - just drizzle the dough with a little olive oil, put it in a freezer bag, remove any extra air and seal.) Or you can bake in 2 round or square cakes pans. I did try a thinner version cooked on a large baking sheet, but preferred the crust on the edges from baking in the smaller pans.
- Drizzle about 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil onto each pan, rubbing it over the bottom and sides. Punch down the dough and place the dough in the pans, using your fingers to carefully spread to the edges of the pan as best you can.
- Cover the dough again with saran wrap coated in olive oil or cooking spray and let it sit for another 20-30 minutes until it is puffed up.
- Meanwhile, if you are topping your dough with rosemary and sea salt, just wash about 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, remove the leaves from the stems, and finely chop. If you are using the olives, just remove the pit and coarsely chop about a dozen mixed olives.
- For the caramelized red onions and feta (my favorite!), start by heating a pan over medium heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add in sliced red onions, thyme, sugar, and salt. Let the onions cook until soft and caramelized - about 10-15 minutes. Then set aside. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Sprinkle your chosen topping(s) all over the dough. Using your fingertips, make little dimples on the top of the focaccia. Drizzle about 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil over the top. It's perfectly okay for the oil to fill up some of those little dimples you made. I always add a bit of sea salt or kosher salt, no matter what topping I use.
- Place the focaccia in the middle rack of the oven and turn the heat down to 375 degrees. This helps the focaccia get that nice golden brown crust. Bake for about 15 minutes for 2 small pans or 20-30 for one large baking sheet.
- Remove the focaccia bread from oven and carefully place the hot bread on a wire rack. It tastes best while it's still warm. You can also freeze the finished focaccia bread by wrapping in foil and them placing in a freezer bag. To reheat, place in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until warm throughout.