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Perfect Focaccia Bread From Your Kitchen

Author:

Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.

Herbed focaccia.

Herbed focaccia.

What Is Focaccia?

Pronunciation: foh-kah-chuh

  • A large, round, flat Italian bread.
  • A flat oven-baked Italian bread product similar in style and texture to pizza dough.
  • A beautiful golden Italian flatbread made of yeast, flour, water, fruity olive oil, and sea salt. They are humble ingredients, but the sum is much more magnificent than the individual parts.

Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.

James Beard (1903-1985)

— James Beard (American cookbook author, teacher, syndicated columnist and television personality)

What's in a Name?

Etymologists tell us that the name 'focaccia' is derived from focus, the hearth on which this popular flatbread was baked by ancient Romans. And because of the vast extent of the Roman Empire, panis focacius (hearth bread) spread all around the Mediterranean.

Yes, unleavened breads are even older (think of the Israelites under the thumb of Egyptian royals or manna in the desert), but focaccia, although flat, is not an unleavened bread. Natural airborne yeasts gave rise (literally) to the type of bread we recognize today.

So, Let's Start Baking

If you have read my post on making a perfect loaf of bread, none of this will be surprising to you. But if perchance this is your first thought of making bread at home, I think that you will find this recipe forgiving and extremely easy and fun.

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

2 hours 45 min

30 min

3 hours 15 min

1 loaf of focaccia bread

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1 cup warm water, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 envelope (2 teaspoons) dry yeast (not instant)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil plus additional for greasing bowl

Topping

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons coarse (Kosher) salt

Mixing the Dough

1. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the warm water, sugar, and yeast. Let sit 10 minutes or until bubbly.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and salt. Make a well in the flour; add the bubbly yeast mixture, the remaining 3/4 cup warm water, and the olive oil. Stir to combine.

3. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic—about 10 minutes.

Kneading the dough.

Kneading the dough.

Proofing

4. When you have finished kneading, place the dough in a large, lightly greased mixing bowl. Turn the dough over in the bowl so that the entire ball of dough is greased. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place, away from drafts.

5. Let the dough sit in this cozy safe place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. One way to test if the dough has risen enough is to lightly and quickily press two fingertips into the dough about 1/2 inch. If the indentation remains, the dough is ready for the next step.

6. Punch down the dough by pushing your fist into the center of the dough. Pull the edges of the dough to the center, and then place the dough on a lightly floured surface. It will be smooth and bubbles will be visible under the surface.

What Is Proofing?

Proofing is what happens when you allow the yeast in dough to ferment, thus causing gas bubbles that inflate the dough. Why do we want "inflated" dough? It is the inflation, the formation of bubbles that create a sturdy crust, a tender crumb, chewiness, and flavor. If proofing (rising) does not occur, you will have a flat, and probably very dense and hard loaf of bread—something more akin to hardtack than bread.

Proofed dough.

Proofed dough.

Shaping and Baking the Focaccia

7. Brush baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place the proofed (and punched down) dough onto the prepared baking sheet and pat into a 10-inch by 8-inch rectangle.

8. Brush the surface of the dough with the remaining olive oil; sprinkle with the rosemary and coarse salt. Dimple (indent) the surface of the dough with your fingertips.

Dough brushed with oil, sprinkled with chopped rosemary and coarse salt, and dimpled. It's ready for the final proofing

Dough brushed with oil, sprinkled with chopped rosemary and coarse salt, and dimpled. It's ready for the final proofing

Baking

9. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until puffed and doubled, about 45 minutes to an hour.

10. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until golden on top. Serve warm.

Baked focaccia.

Baked focaccia.

Variations

So, that's the basic recipe. Of course, you can omit the rosemary if you desire a very simple, basic loaf.

Or you can add fruit, cheese, tomatoes, meat—whatever you want. Here are some recipes to help you expand focaccia from a simple bread to an appetizer, main dish, or dessert.

Aged cheddar and apple focaccia.

Aged cheddar and apple focaccia.

Aged Cheddar and Apple Focaccia

Jennifer is a food blogger in Ontario, Canada who loves to share simple, seasonal recipes, that don't take a lot of time but produce the most delicious results. One of her creations is this recipe for focaccia with sweet apples and salty/tangy aged Cheddar cheese. Wouldn't this be perfect as an appetizer with a glass of crisp white wine or some sparkling water?

Goat Cheese, Grape, Rosemary Focaccia

Allow me to introduce you to Jenn. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia and is the creator of this wonderful sweet/savory focaccia. Here is the "About Me" from her blog:

I have a background in food science and nutrition, and started Foodess as a creative outlet during a particularly heavy part of my degree. Science labs and chemistry textbooks were kind of sanitizing my reasons for choosing a food path in the first place: a love of cooking and a life spent obsessing about what I could eat next.

I began my career with a lovely little job developing recipes in a test kitchen and providing technical baking support for a flour company. I now work full time as a blogger, with a bit of freelance food photography, recipe development and food writing on the side.

Focaccia pizza.

Focaccia pizza.

Best Ever Focaccia Pizza

Tessa Arias is everything I want to be when I grow up—she has a culinary degree, over six years of experience in food writing, a blog, and a published cookbook. And she created this savory, meaty, cheesy pizza-like focaccia.

Beef puttanesca pizza.

Beef puttanesca pizza.

Beef Puttanesca Pizza

"Puttanesca" is a type of pasta—garlic, and tomatoes (of course), but brightened with the addition of briny capers. Brandy (aka Nutmegnanny) has taken those familiar flavors and plated them on a savory tomato-y flatbread.

Strawberry focaccia bread with cinnamon sugar.

Strawberry focaccia bread with cinnamon sugar.

Strawberry Focaccia Bread with Cinnamon Sugar

Anjana is located at the corner of Happy and Harried, a sweet blog filled with crafts, pretty photographs, tasty foods, and sweet treats. She created this Strawberries and Focaccia recipe which I absolutely LOVE. The flavors remind me of a turnover my German-Russian mother baked years ago when I was a child—yeast dough filled with sugar-simmered strawberries.

© 2016 Linda Lum

Comments

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on October 31, 2019:

Cynthia, there is nothing more heavenly than the aroma of bread baking, unless you put rosemary on top, then it's spelled Heaven with a capital letter H and flashing lights. Enjoy my dear. Your kitchen will smell marvelous!

Cynthia Zirkwitz from Vancouver Island, Canada on October 31, 2019:

Linda

We love basic focaccia bread and I do have all ihe ingedients on hand-- including rosemary at my front door-- so, I shall give this a go this morning! Yum! The additional recipes are also tantilizing!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on December 30, 2016:

Shauna - The rosemary is sooo good, and I have a bountiful supply with a bush almost as tall as me (...well, actually that's not saying much). The aroma while it bakes is Heavenly (yes, the capital H is appropriate LOL).

Admittedly I have not tried the strawberry dessert version because fresh berries are not available at this time of year, but next Spring I will certainly put that one in the rotation.

Best wishes to you for a Happy New Year.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on December 30, 2016:

All these photos are making me hungry! I can almost smell the bread. The rosemary focaccia looks yummy. They all do, but I love rosemary!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on December 23, 2016:

Paula - You've made my day. And you've made me hungry. I was going to have a bowl of cereal, but now all I can think about is butter (melty, of course) and jam. Thank you for your kind words, your encouragement, and for stopping by.

Merry Christmas!

Paula fpherj48 on December 23, 2016:

OMG! Carb Diva....How could you??! My weakness...my first food- love...BREADS!!! All kinds, forms, types, flavors, shapes....YUM ! I'm drooling over here! I will be dreaming now of fresh, warm from the oven, homemade breads dripping with butter & creams and jams and sauces......I think I'm gonna die from desire!!!!! LOL.

This is my FAVORITE recipe hub. In fact, I rarely even read them! LOL "Merry Christmas!!" Peace, Paula

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on December 22, 2016:

Flourish, there is bread, and then there is focaccia. Focaccia with homemade pesto would be Heavenly.

I love it grilled (those smoky char marks taste amazing). And then, when it's a day or 2 old (if it lasts that long LOL) tear it into bits and drop it into your soup, or stew, or even pasta with a bit of extra sauce. It sops up all of those wonderful flavors and...

Well, you get it.

Thanks for visiting. Love to you this Christmas.

FlourishAnyway from USA on December 22, 2016:

My dad makes his own pesto and this would go so well with it. I like that you're on a bread kick right now. I have rarely had a bad piece of bread, especially if it's homemade. I love the stuff.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on December 19, 2016:

Audrey, you and I are certainly kindred spirits. Thanks for stopping by.

Audrey Howitt from California on December 19, 2016:

One of my favorite foods! I never met a carb I didn't love!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on December 19, 2016:

RTalloni - Thank you so much. I love focaccia and it was fun putting this one together. Have a wonderful day, and a blessed Christmas.

RTalloni on December 19, 2016:

This is a lovely hub on focaccia! Thanks for such good info and the beautifully illustrated recipes.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on December 19, 2016:

Oh Bill, you are so kind (always). I am doing what I enjoy. And it seems the staff of HP seem to like the style I have adopted. All of my writings in the past few months have been moved to the new niche site 'Delishably', usually within 48 hours of being published.

Now I need to get off of this page and read the mailbag. Have a great Monday my friend.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on December 19, 2016:

Eric - It is very likely that the pizza you had in Rome had a yeasty flatbread underneath--not the cracker thin dough we tend to favor here in the United States.

Your question is a good one--if not clear to you, then perhaps some others are puzzled as well, and I need to take care of that. Refer to the section under Shaping and Baking the focaccia, and you will see that one tablespoon of the oil is used for the pan and the remaining 1 tablespoon is brushed on top of the dough.

Are you going to bake some focaccia for your family?

In the basic recipe, when I say that the 2 tablespoons of olive oil is "divided", I mean that some (not all) of it will be used in one part of the recipe, and the remainder will be used in a separate step.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on December 19, 2016:

This brought me back more decades than I care to share. As a young American man in Rome I found their pizza was different. The crust was much thicker and more chewy, with just a bit of crunch. Now you make me wonder about it.

Please excuse my ignorance but what does "divided" mean?

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 19, 2016:

I challenge anyone out there to write a better food article than this one. Seriously!

Happy Monday, Linda! You have me drooling.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on December 18, 2016:

Jackie - I so agree! The aroma of yeasty dough takes me back to my childhood. Every Saturday my mom would bake bread. Thank you for your kind words.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on December 18, 2016:

These look fantastic, I have got to try them. Nothing like a yeast bread and smell, is there?

Thanks for sharing this!