Focaccia bread is a versatile bread, perfect as a snack bread, hors d'oeuvres, or alongside soup. The bread is fairly flat and dense when baked, rising to approximately 2 - 3" in height. It can be baked with a simple topping of olive oil and sea salt, or a more elaborating toppings pairing various herbs. Be creative -
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2 tablespoons rapid-rising dry yeast
1 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
3 1/2 to 4 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon sea salt (Plus additional for topping)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (Plus 2-3 tablespoons for topping)
cornmeal for dusting baking pan
Combine 1 cup warm water with 2 tablespoons of rapid-rise yeast in a coffee cup. Wisk the water and yeast together to combine well. Once combined, let it stand 10 minutes to proof, (do not stir during the proofing process) the mixture will become frothy.
In a separate bowl combine dry ingredients; 3 1/2 cups flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, and 1 tablespoon of sea salt. Mix the dry ingredients together to combine.
Use an electric mixer with dough hook attachment to combine ingredients forming dough, or sir by hand if you prefer. Once yeast is proofed, add it to your mixing bowl, start mixer on low speed, then add 1/4 cup olive oil, and mix one minute to combine.
Next add dry ingredients one tablespoon at a time as mixer is mixing. Continue to add dry ingredients with mixer on low speed until soft dough forms. Stop as needed to scrape the side of the mixing bowl, pushing the dough down to the bottom, allowing it to be whipped by dough hook. If needed add additional 1/2 cup of flour. Continue mixing for 5 - 8 minutes, until a soft, smooth dough forms.
Flour a work surface. Turn the dough out onto the surface. Fold the dour over itself three to four times. The should be soft, not sticky, if it sticky add a small bit of flour and knead. Next, rise the dough. Oil a tall stainless steel bowl. Fill kitchen sink with hot water, enough to rise up 1/3 on the bowl. Insert the bowl into the sink, and cover the sink with a clean towel. Let sit half to one hour until dough is doubled in size.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Punch down dough, then turn out onto lined backing sheet. Push dough outward, forming a rectangular shape, approximately 1/2" thick.
Once dough is in desired shape, lift one side of the dough, dust beneath with cornmeal, repeat this process on the other side. Cornmeal under the bread will create a crispy crusty bottom.
Using a fork, poke holes in the top of the bread, to allow the dough to vent during the baking process. Let dough stand 20 to 30 minutes to rise.
Once dough has risen, cover with 2 - 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt. Then bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
Remove from oven and cut into small squares or rectangles for serving.
Additional topping ideas; fresh chopped herbs; thyme, rosemary, tarragon, and garlic, paired with chopped olives, or fruits like cherries and figs. You are limited only by our imagination.
Until next time, wishing you all the best -