EASY FOCACCIA BREAD

During the pandemic, many turned to make bread not only for food but as a soothing pastime during an unsettling period. We returned to the ancient art of bread making. There is something so alive and primitive about creating your own bread! We forgot that yeast is a living organism, a building block for many products, including bread. And bread making is easy with commercially made yeast. Although during the pandemic, yeast was more precious than gold!

This is an easy Focaccia bread recipe that you can make and let rise in the refrigerator overnight or in a warm area for 3-4 hours. Also, you can top with herbs or make a topping of garlic butter or pesto. 

However, you choose to top this bread is delicious!

Focaccia Bread

10–12 servings

1 ¼-oz. envelope active dry yeast (about 2¼ tsp.) Red Star Platinum Yeast

2 tsp. honey

5 cups (625 g) of all-purpose flour King Aurthur’s Flour

1 Tbsp. Morton kosher salt

6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for hands

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter for pan Cabot butter

Flaky sea salt

1 – 2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary or a combination of herbs

Butter/Garlic Topping

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

2 -4 cloves of garlic

Pesto Topping

Ingredients

Yield: 2 cups

2 cups fresh basil leaves (no stems)

2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts

2 large cloves of garlic

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Step 1

Whisk one ¼-oz. envelope of active dry yeast, 2 tsp. Honey and 2½ cups lukewarm water(100° F) in a medium bowl and sit for 5 minutes. 

Step  2

Add 5 cups (625 g) of all-purpose flour and 1 Tbsp. Morton kosher salt and mix with a rubber spatula until a shaggy dough forms and no dry streaks remain.

Step 3

Pour 4 tbsp. Extra-virgin olive oil into a big bowl. Transfer dough to bowl and turn to coat in oil. Cover plastic wrap and chill until dough is doubled in size, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day. You can also let it rise at room temperature until it doubles in size for 3–4 hours.

Step 4

Generously butter a 13×9″ baking pan for thicker focaccia or an 18×13″ rimmed baking sheet for focaccia that’s thinner and crispier. Pour 1 Tbsp. Extra-virgin olive oil into the center of the pan. Keeping the dough in the bowl and using a fork in each hand, gather up the edges of the dough farthest from you and lift it up and over into the center of the bowl. Give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat. Transfer dough into the prepared pan. Pour any oil left in the bowl over the dough and coat it in oil. Let rise, uncovered, in a dry, warm spot until doubled in size, at least 1½ hours and up to 4 hours.

Step 5

Place a rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 450°. To see if the dough is ready, poke it with your finger. It should spring back slowly, leaving a slightly visible indentation. If it bounces back quickly, the dough isn’t ready. 

Lightly oil your hands. Using a rimmed baking sheet, gently stretch the dough to fill it, or use a baking pan. It should fit. Dimple focaccia with your fingers, creating deep depressions in the dough (reach your fingers to the bottom of the pan). Drizzle with the remaining 1 tbsp. Extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Bake focaccia until puffed and golden brown, for 20–30 minutes.

Step 6

Garlic Butter

Melt 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat. Peel and grate in 2–4 garlic cloves with a Microplane. Return to medium heat and cook, often stirring, until garlic is lightly toasted, 30–45 seconds.

Brush garlic butter or pesto over focaccia and slice into squares or rectangles. Serve.

Pesto

Preparation

Combine basil leaves, pine nuts or walnuts, and garlic in a food processor, and combine until very finely minced. With the machine running slowly, dribble in the oil and process until the mixture is smooth. Add the cheese and process it very briefly, just long enough to combine. Store in refrigerator or freezer.

Step 8

Do Ahead: Focaccia is best eaten the day it’s made but keeps well in the freezer. Slice it into pieces, store it in a freezer-safe container, then reheat it on a baking sheet in a 300° F oven.

Enjoy!

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