Make this easy focaccia bread recipe! Moist, soft, and spongy, with a rich olive oil & sea salt flavor. Wonderfully authentic Italian recipe!
Have you seen that Netflix show “Salt Fat Acid Heat?” If not it is a must-watch!
It’s shot so beautifully, it’s truly a feast for the eyes. And the host, Samin Nosrat, travels all over the world, to the most beautiful locations, exploring all sorts of different cuisines and teaching/learning along the way.
Samin herself is adorable. By the end of the series you will have fallen in love with her. I can’t recommend the show highly enough!
The one episode that I really loved the most was the “Fat” one. She was in Italy, learning about how olive oil, pork fat, and cheese are used to carry flavor and add richness in all sorts of Italian dishes.
In Liguria, she helped make a traditional focaccia bread, bathed in oil and a salty brine, and it absolutely made my mouth water. I had never experienced bread like that, and I couldn’t wait to give it a try.
So here is my version!
You’re really going to love it. It can be made in a big, thin sheet, crusty and chewy like pizza crust, or in a pan for a thicker, spongier texture. The flavor is simple but hearty, with lots of good extra-virgin olive oil and sea salt, and you can dress it up with all sorts of other toppings too.
And best of all, it’s so easy to make! While there is a long rise time, it’s completely hands-off and the dough is as simple as tossing 5 basic pantry staples into a bowl and stirring it all up.
HOW TO MAKE FOCACCIA
Making this dough is so simple, I think you’re really going to love it!
It starts in much the same way as just about any other bread recipe, by blooming the yeast. Make sure your yeast isn’t past its expiration date, give it a little something sweet (in this case honey) to snack on, and dissolve it in warm water.
The water should be warm but not hot. If it’s too hot, it could kill the yeast. Aim for the temperature of a baby’s bath, or around 105 to 110 degrees F, if you’re using a thermometer.
Once the yeast has dissolved and is starting to look foamy, you can move on to the next step. This usually takes about 5 minutes.
Focaccia bread is known for it’s rich olive oil flavor and moist texture, so pour in a good amount of extra-virgin olive oil.
Next just dump in the flour and salt. It’s a good amount of salt, I know! I had to check and re-check the recipe to make sure I didn’t have it wrong. The finished product is flavorful and well-balanced.
Stir in the dry ingredients until well combined. You should end up with a very sticky dough that gathers itself into a ball.
Then cover it lightly and allow it to rise and ferment at room temperature for 12 to 14 hours. This extra-long rest period allows the bread to develop some really deep, wonderful flavor.
I usually start my focaccia the night before and then finish it up the next morning.
When you remove the cover, it’s amazing how much the dough has risen! Mine comes nearly to the top of this huge mixing bowl. It’s puffed up and full of air bubbles!
Using clean hands or a silicone spatula, gently deflate the dough and fold it over upon itself a handful of times. This is the only “kneading” this bread needs!
Now you have a choice to make. You can either bake this focaccia big and flat, like a pizza, or thick and generous, almost like a cake. Samin recommends big and flat, so for that you would want to use a big half-sheet pan.
I made mine this way first and it was delicious. Chewy and crusty and so good. But then I decided I wanted to try for a thick, spongy square and I think I liked that even better. When you dip it in olive oil or pesto or balsamic or whatever, it soaks it up in the most delicious way!
For this style of focaccia bread, you’ll want to use a 9×13 cake pan.
Whichever pan you choose, be sure to oil it first to prevent sticking and encourage a crunchy bottom crust.
Then slide the dough into the pan and drizzle it with a little more olive oil.
Gently push and tease the dough to form to the shape of the pan. You are aiming for an even thickness and for the dough to reach all the way to the corners of the pan.
If your dough is overly springy and won’t cooperate, give it a 10-minute rest and it should relax for you.
Cover it once again, this time with lightly greased plastic wrap (I just give it a quick mist with non-stick spray), and allow it a second, 45-minute rise.
Once it’s puffed up, use your fingertips to gently push into the dough, creating deep dimples. These dimples are one of the hallmarks of authentic focaccia bread.
Stir warm water and salt together to create a brine, and drizzle the brine all over the surface of the unbaked dough.
Then give it a generous sprinkling of sea salt, for extra flavor.
This bread will bake in a hot oven for around 30 minutes total. To get a nice brown, crispy bottom crust, it’s a great idea to bake it on a stone. If you don’t have a stone, or if like me your stone isn’t big enough for a 9×13 pan, just flip over a baking sheet and place it on the center rack of your oven.
Whether using a stone or an upside-down baking sheet, be sure that you preheat the oven with that in there, so it gets really hot and really crisps things up.
Once the bread feels springy when pressed, and is starting to look a little golden around the edges, it can be moved to the top rack of the oven to brown the top.
WHAT KIND OF FLOUR TO USE
Samin recommends good old all-purpose flour for this recipe, and what Samin says I do. So that is what I used in the pictures and video here.
WHY DIMPLE THE DOUGH?
Those deep dimples that cover the surface of focaccia are one of its main hallmarks!
Besides adding a more interesting and complex texture to the bread, they also serve as little vessels to contain the olive oil and salt brine.
These flavorful liquids collect in all the valleys, while the peaks are allowed to brown and crisp up.
HOW TO SERVE FOCACCIA BREAD
This focaccia recipe can be served in so many different ways!
If you make your focaccia thick and generous, it can be sliced horizontally and used for sandwiches or panini. Imagine piling on an assortment of Italian meats, cheeses, and grilled vegetables. YUM!
It can also be cut into slices and served along with a little dish of olive oil, pesto, balsamic vinegar, or any combination of those things, along with seasonings like crushed red pepper, lemon zest, or chopped olives.
When you dip the bread in, it acts like a sponge and soaks up all those incredible flavors!
I also think this bread is a perfect accompaniment to a light meal of soup or salad. The flavor is simple but hearty, and it would pair well with all sorts of different tastes.
I’ve followed Samin’s lead and kept things really simple here, flavoring the focaccia with just good olive oil and salt.
But you can totally get creative! There are so many directions you could take and this recipe will stand up to any of them.
- Fresh herbs such as rosemary or thyme.
- Sun-dried tomatoes or fresh grape tomatoes that will roast & burst as the bread bakes.
- Charred, roasted peppers.
- Roasted garlic.
- Grated cheese such as parmigiano reggiano, pecorino romano, or ricotta salata.
- Caramelized onions.
- Grapes (may sound strange but it’s actually not that uncommon!).
HOW LONG WILL IT KEEP?
This bread should keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days at least. Slip it into a zip-top bag to prevent it from going stale.
To extend the shelf life, pop any leftovers into the fridge or freezer. They should keep for around a week in the fridge, and a month or so in the freezer. The bread can be reheated in a 170-degree oven, wrapped in foil, until warmed through.
The dough can also be kept for up to 2 days in the fridge, or 2 weeks in the freezer. Allow it to thaw completely and come to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.
A FEW MORE OF MY FAVORITE YEAST BREAD RECIPES:
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For the Focaccia Bread:
For the Brine:
- 1/3 cup (78.86 g) warm water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (7.39 g) kosher salt
- Place the honey and water in a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top.
- Set aside until the yeast has dissolved and is becoming foamy.
- Stir in the olive oil, flour, and kosher salt, until the dough forms a sticky ball.
- Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise & ferment at room temperature for 12 to 14 hours.
- Using a silicone spatula or oiled hands, punch down the dough and fold it over upon itself a few times, then transfer it to an oiled 9x13-inch baking dish.
- Drizzle with olive oil and spread/stretch the dough to fill the bottom of the pan evenly.
- Cover with greased plastic wrap and allow to rise for another 45 minutes.
- Use your fingertips to press dimples all over the surface of the dough, then cover with brine and sprinkle with sea salt.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, placing an upside-down baking sheet (or pizza stone) on the center rack to heat along with the oven.
- Bake the focaccia on the hot baking sheet or stone until it feels springy to the touch and the edges are beginning to brown and shrink from the sides of the pan (approx. 20 to 30 minutes).
- If needed, transfer the focaccia to the top rack of the oven to brown the top of the bread (for aprox. 5 more minutes).