The most basic focaccia is topped with little more than olive oil and fresh herbs, a perfect companion for soups and salads.
2 ½ tsp. (1 package) quick-dry yeast
½ cup warm water (105º to 115ºF)
1 ½ cups milk
6 Tbs. olive oil
5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme or ¼ tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary or ¼ tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. chopped fresh sage or ¼ tsp. dried sage
Coarse salt, to taste
In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let stand until creamy, about 5 minutes. Stir until dissolved. Add the milk and 4 Tbs. of olive oil, and stir. In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, stir together the flour, salt, thyme, rosemary and sage. Add the yeast mixture and stir until a soft dough forms, about 2 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Shape it into a ball.
Oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn it once to coat the top. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Oil a 15 x 10 x 10" jelly-roll pan. Punch down the dough, transfer to the prepared pan and flatten it out with your hands to cover the bottom completely. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise again in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 450ºF. Using your fingertips, press down firmly into the dough to make dimples about 1 inch apart and 1 inch deep. Drizzle the entire surface with the remaining 2 Tbs. oil and sprinkle with the coarse salt. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Slide the focaccia onto a wire rack and let cool completely. Cut into squares to serve.
Olive & Roasted Tomato Focaccia
The addition of tomatoes gives this focaccia the same savory richness of pizza.
1 package (2 ¼ tsp.) quick-dry yeast
1 ¼ cups lukewarm water (110ºF)
3 ½ Tbs. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
1 tsp. coarse sea salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 ½ to 4 cups bread flour
4 oz. roasted tomatoes
24 Oil-cured pitted olives chopped in half
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in lukewarm water. Add 2 Tbs. of olive oil, salt and pepper. Gradually stir in 3 cups of flour. Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead. Add the remaining flour as needed until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. In a separate bowl, combine olives and roasted tomatoes. Let dough rise until puffy, 30 to 40 minutes. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Oil a rimmed baking sheet. Turn dough onto baking sheet and gently spread to cover. Use your fingertips to dimple the dough. Brush with remaining olive oil. Sprinkle evenly with olive and roasted tomato mixture. Bake until golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Serve warm.
Focccia with Grapes & Walnuts
Grapes add an interesting sweetness to this traditionally savory bread. The aniseed and rosemary are fragrant additions. When buying grapes, choose those that are plump, firm and colorful.
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
3 fresh rosemary sprigs
½ cup walnuts, chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1 Tbs. quick-dry yeast
¾ cup lukewarm water
1 Tbs. aniseeds, coarsely ground
1 ½ tsp. coarse salt
2 Tbs. sugar
1 ½ cups seedless red grapes
In a frying pan over medium heat, warm the ¼ cup olive oil and the rosemary sprigs until they sizzle. Remove from heat. Add the walnuts and discard the rosemary. Set aside. In a bowl, stir together ¼ cup of the flour, the yeast and ¼ cup of the water. Let stand until bubbles form, about 20 minutes. Add the aniseeds, ½ tsp. of the salt, the sugar, the remaining ½ cup water, and the walnuts and rosemary oil. Stir in the remaining 1 ¾ cups flour. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes, adding just enough flour to prevent sticking. Place in a well-oiled bowl and turn the dough to oil the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and place a pizza stone on the rack. Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Punch down the dough and turn out onto a floured surface. Roll out into a large oval ½ inch thick. Transfer to a baking sheet. Make shallow evenly spaced indentations in the surface. Brush with olive oil. Press the grapes into the indentations and sprinkle with the remaining salt. Bake on the stone until golden and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes.