Focaccia is my favorite bread to make since it is by far one of easiest and most forgiving breads to make. It is pretty hard to mess up and even harder to mess up if you follow this recipe. Focaccia recipes tend to leave a pretty large margin of error which is why it is best bread for beginners. This focaccia recipe is a blank canvas for you to experiment with by adding countless toppings. The base of the recipe is fluffy and tender with just the right amount of chew. This step-by-step recipe is going to help you master the art of making focaccia and leave you with the skills to experiment and get creative with your focaccia making.
TIPS, INGREDIENT SUBSTITUTIONS, AND THINGS TO BE MINDFUL OF:
Hydration - the bread is moist since it has a high hydration (meaning it has lots of water). For my bread nerds, this focaccia is a 72% hydration recipe, with 2% salt, 13% extra virgin olive oil, and 1 packet instant dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons).
Rise and Proof - when making this focaccia recipe, we have two options on rise times. You can either take the shorter route where you let the focaccia proof at room temperature for 60-90 minutes until it doubles in size or let it rise in the refrigerator for 9-12 hours (overnight) until it doubles in size. Both methods will work great; however a longer and slower rise will yield a better tasting final loaf with a better crumb. This is because the yeast has more time to ferment (meaning more flavor) and the gluten has more time to develop and strengthen (meaning a fluffier and better crumb). If you cannot wait 9-12 hours, don’t worry, the standard 60-90 minute proof will still yield a delicious loaf. See notes for how to troubleshoot proofing.
E.V.O.O & Flavor - this bread is so flavorful thanks to our secret ingredient: garlic powder! Garlic powder adds a subtle garlic flavor that pairs so well with the extra virgin olive oil. Speaking of extra virgin olive oil, if you can, now is the time to bring out the fancy stuff. Yes, I mean the olive oil in the nice dark glass jar that smells all fruity and delicious. Since olive oil is one of the main flavors in this recipe, you want to make sure you are using the tastiest and best olive oil you can.
Flour - this recipe calls for either all all purpose flour or a 50/50 blend of all purpose and bread flour. Using a blend of the two flours will help give your bread better structure as bread flour will help build stronger gluten strands. However, if you do not have bread flour, don’t fret, because your focaccia will still turn out tall and delicious.
Measuring - the key to getting the lightest and best focaccia is to precisely measure out your flour. Typically when you just scoop out the flour straight from the container, you end up measuring way too much much flour. This is because when you scoop the flour straight from the container, you are packing it down too much, meaning that your measuring cup is filled with dense flour. Measuring too much flour can ruin almost any baked good, so I recommend using a kitchen food scale when possible since this will provide the most accurate results. However, if you do not have a food scale the most accurate way you can measure your flour is by spooning the flour into your measuring cup until it is full. Then with the flat side of a butter knife, swipe the excess overflowing flour off. This method is called spooning and leveling your flour.
Yeast - this recipe calls for 1 envelope of active dry yeast. I have not tried it with quick rise or rapid yeast.
Salt - it is important to try and use fine sea salt when bread making since iodized salt can sometimes make you bread have a strange taste.
TOTAL TIME: 1 hour 5 minutes (plus rise time)
YEILD: one 9x13 inch loaf
5 cups (600 grams) all purpose flour or a 50/50 blend of bread and apf
2 cups (432 grams) water
1 tablespoon (12 grams) fine sea salt
1 packet active dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)
6-8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (divided)
2 teaspoons honey/granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt-free garlic powder
¼-⅓ cup rosemary leaves
Flakey sea salt
Start by activating your yeast. Warm up the water until it feels lukewarm or cool bathwater. Add in your honey/sugar and the yeast packet. Give it a quick mix and set it aside for 5-7 minutes to activate.
Meanwhile, in a stand mixer, add in your flour(s), salt, and garlic powder. Mix them together and make sure to assemble the dough hook onto your mixer (see notes on how to make this recipe without a stand mixer and by hand).
After 5-7 minutes, the yeast should be a little foamy. Pour the yeast mixture on top of your flour and turn the mixer on to medium. Stream in 4 tablespoons of olive oil and let the mixture run for 5-7 minutes. Make sure to stop every once in a while to scrape the bottom of the bowl and make sure all of the flour is incorporated. You will know the dough is done when it feels tacky and is barely sticking to the sides of the mixer.
Spray a clean bowl with cooking spray and place the dough in the bowl and cover. Depending on how much time you have, you can either place the dough in the fridge to proof 9-12 hours or leave it out at room temperature to rise for 60-90 minutes. With both methods, you want to make sure that the dough has doubled in size by the end of the rising time.
Once your dough has risen, you can check to see if it is ready by gently poking it with your finger. If it slowly springs back, that is a sign that you are ready to move on to the next step. See proofing troubleshooting for more help if your dough is under/over proofed.
Pour about a tablespoon of olive oil into a 9x13 inch baking pan. Spread it along the bottom and sides. Add more oil if necessary. Then gently remove your dough from the bowl and place it in the baking pan.
Slowly start to stretch it out to the corners of the pan. If you went with the fridge method, you may have to let the dough rest and warm up to room temperature for no longer than 15 minutes in the pan. Make sure to stretch the dough out in an even layer and make sure it reaches all 4 corners of your pan.
Then, pour 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil over the focaccia and press your fingers into the focaccia to create dimples. Sprinkle your chopped rosemary and sea salt on top and cover. Set it in a slightly warm room for about 60 minutes until it almost doubles in size. Towards the end of your rising time, preheat your oven to 375° F.
Once the focaccia almost doubles in size, place it in the oven for 30-40 minutes until fluffy and golden brown. If you have a food thermometer, you are looking for an internal temperature of over 215° F.
Remove the focaccia from the oven and let it completely cool before cutting into it. Store in an airtight container to ensure freshness.
To make this focaccia by hand:
Complete Step 1 and then mix together the flour(s), garlic powder, and salt with a whisk. Then, create a small well in your bowl and add the olive oil into the well. Then add in your yeast mixture to the well and slowly start bringing the flour in from the sides of the well and mix with your hands. Once all of the flour is incorporated with the wet ingredients, it will form a sticky dough. You will want to knead this dough for about 5-7 minutes until it is only slightly tacky. Then return to Step 4.
If your bread is under proofed, when you attempt the poke test, it will immediately spring back. When this happens, give it another 15 minutes and check back. Repeat this until you attempt another poke test and the bread springs back slowly. If your bread still is not rising after this, move it to a warmer room and keep an eye on it since we do not want it to over proof. If your bread is not rising, move it to a warmer room and keep an eye on it.
If your bread is over proofed, when you attempt a poke test, your finger indent will not spring back. Over proofing your bread is not ideal, but since focaccia is such a forgiving bread, you will be alright. Your final loaf might not turn out as fluffy and tall as it should, but nevertheless, it will still be great. Add your over proofed dough straight to the baking pan and skip the second 60 minute rise. Wait for your oven to preheat and just before putting the bread into your preheated oven, cover it with tin foil. Covering it with tinfoil will create steam which will help the over proofed bread retain more moisture and rise a little more. Bake with the foil on for 15-20 minutes and then bake uncovered for another 20 minutes. Let it cool completely before slicing it.
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