Learn how to make Easy Focaccia Bread with a simple topping of black olives, rosemary and olive oil dusted with flaky sea salt. Once you get the basics down pat, it is fun to get creative and try differnet toppings. One of my favorites is to add quartered artichoke hearts and freshly grated parmesan cheese to the top. Another great combo is sliced prosciutto and fresh basil with smoked mozzarella.
Here are some tips I've learned for making easy focaccia bread:
1) Use room temperature yeast. I have learned that room temperature yeast produces a better and faster bloom. The easiest thing is to keep packages of pre-measured Active Yeast in your pantry.
2) Don't let the dough get too dry when mixing. Adding too much flour to the dough will create a dense texture. Let the dough ball feel sticky and not quite form a smooth ball on the dough hook. As you do the last few kneads by hand on a floured board, it should be enough flour for a perfect dough.
3) For consistent results, let the dough rises in your oven with the light on. Be sure the oven is turned off. This keeps the dough from drafts and temperature changes and the light from the oven adds some warmth.
4). Lastly, be liberal with the salt, rosemary leaves and olive oil. Each ingredient adds a critical flavor component to make the focaccia addictive. I have tried making it with minimal salt, and no rosemary and was greatly disappointed in both. Just do it.
Here is the basic step-by-step guide to making Easy Focaccia Bread:
Make the dough in your stand mixer, and let rise in an oiled bowl for about 2 hours. It will double in size. This dough has salt, olive oil and chopped rosemary leaves in the dough for maximum flavor.
Turn the dough into a sheet pan lined with a silicon mat (or parchment). Spread out the dough with your clean hands leaving about an inch around the edges. It does not have to be perfect! Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest and rise a second time for 20 minutes.
With your finger tips, poke lots of dimples into the dough to create little wells to hold additional olive oil. This gives the bread a wonderful crust. Arrange additional ingredients such as kalamata olives, more rosemary leaves, sliced fresh garlic, artichoke quarters or grated parmesan cheese. Let your tastebuds go wild. Finish the focaccia bread with a generous drizzle of olive oil and sprinkling of flaked, coarse sea salt.
Here is the artichoke & parmesan version before baking.
Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden on top.
Let cool 5 minutes and slice in squares. It is delicious warm or room temperature. Serve Focaccia as an appetizer or as a side bread with an Italian meal.
Easy Focaccia Bread
- 2 ½ teaspoons Active Dry Yeast room temperature
- 1 ½ cups hot water from tap approx 113 -115 F tested with a digital thermometer
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ⅓ cup olive oil for dough, plus 1 tablespoon for bowl, plus 2 tablespoons for drizzling on top
- 1 tablespoon coarse salt plus ½ tablespoon for sprinkling on top
- 4 cups AP flour
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary leaves stripped from the stems plus 1 sprig for garnish on top
- ½ cup Kalamata olives pitted
- ½ cup canned artichoke quarters well drained (optional)
- ½ grated freshly grated Parmesan cheese optional
- In a large glass measuring cup, add hot water from tap, and test temperature with digital thermometer. When correct temperature of 113 -155 degrees is achieved, add the sugar and yeast and mix to dissolve. Let stand, covered for 5 - 10 minutes, or until foamy. Add ⅓ cup olive oil to yeast after bloomed.
- Whisk the flour, salt, and rosemary leaves together in a medium bowl until evenly distributed. Add 3 ½ cups of flour/salt mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the yeast mixture and mix until a dough starts to form. If the dough is too wet add 1 - 2 tablespoons of flour at a time until sticky. Do not let the dough get too dry or it will be dense. Let knead for about 5 minutes in total. Remove the dough from the mixer and knead a few more times by hand on a floured board to form a smooth ball.
- Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large glass bowl and swirl around to coat the sides. Place the dough in the oiled bowl and roll it around in the bowl to fully coat the dough ball. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a tea towel. Let it rise until doubled about 2 hours. Note: I usually place the covered bowl in an “off” oven with the light on for consistent results.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment or a Silicone mat.
- Punch down risen dough with your fist to remove the air pockets. Transfer the dough to the sheet pan.
- Using your fingers, spread the dough out to form a rectangle slightly smaller than the size of the sheet pan.
- Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and let dough rise for 20 more minutes.
- Once dough has risen, randomly poke many holes in the dough with your fingertips. The dimples will hold small pools of olive oil that give focaccia its traditional look and taste.
- Press whole black olives into the dough so that each slice of focaccia gets at least one olive. Press additional rosemary leaves into the dough for garnish. (Optional - arrange artichoke quarters. Lightly sprinkle grated parmesan cheese on top if desired).
- Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil on top of the dough allowing it pool in the dimples. Sprinkle ½ tablespoon of coarse salt on top.
- Place sheet pan in middle rack of heated oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the top is light golden brown.
- Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes.
- Transfer the focaccia to a cutting board and slice into squares before serving.
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