Focaccia is an easy bread. It is always delicious and, unlike many breads, it doesn’t require much finesse. The herbs and oil give you a delicious, crispy crust every time, with a spongy, open crumb. I could eat focaccia with olive oil at every meal of my life and never get tired of it.
In fact, in college, there was once a week of my life where I think nearly every meal was just bread, olive oil, and salt. I lived on the simple pleasure of soft, sweet bread, mildly bitter olive oil, and the bite of salt. I really could eat it every day.
While focaccia is closely associated with olive oil, there is no oil in the dough itself. Oil in dough tends to make it denser, so the lack of oil creates a spongy, open texture. With the oiled pan and the oil drizzled over the top, there is no shortage of oil in the finished product, so it develops a wonderful crust on all sides.
As for how to season your focaccia, it is hard to go wrong. Coat the top with herbs and garlic or stud it with tomatoes or olives, it is hard to go wrong. Whatever you do, serve it with a little dish of olive oil and salt or olive oil and balsamic to dip, and you have a perfect appetizer for a summer feast.
Makes 2 x 9” loaves
3 cups flour
1.5 tsp salt
1 envelope yeast
1 tsp sugar
1.5 cups water
¼ cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
4 tsp herbs of your choice (basil, oregano, rosemary, etc.)
Other garnishes (kalamata olives, grape tomatoes, etc.)
In a bowl of warm (not hot) water, dissolve the sugar. Add the dried yeast and stir, allowing it to dissolve. Set this aside for a few minutes until it is nice and foamy on top, indicating the yeast have activated.
In a large mixing bowl, combine your flour, salt, and 2 teaspoons of your herbs of choice. Mix well. Add the water and yeast, and stir until a dough ball forms. Remove the dough ball from the mixing bowl and knead it only a couple of times to make a nice, uniform ball.
Coat the ball well with olive oil and place it back in the mixing bowl. Cover with a cloth or plastic wrap, and leave in a warm place to rise.
After a few hours, when the dough is properly risen (at least doubled in size), punch it down and toss it onto a floured workspace. Form the dough into a nice ball, and then slice it in half. Knead the halves a couple times and form them into their own dough balls.
Heavily drizzle the bottom of two 9” cake pans with olive oil and add the dough balls, spreading the dough out evenly. Dimple the top heavily by poking your fingers into the dough. Poke hard, all the way to the bottom, but not through the dough. It should spring back, but leave a nice dimple.
Mince the garlic and scatter it over the top with your remaining 2 teaspoons of herbs. Pour over the remaining olive oil, and stud the bread with olives or tomatoes if you are using them. A sprinkling of kosher salt over the top is good too.
Bake the loaves at 450 for around 20-25 minutes until they are golden, crisp, and delicious. Click here for our guide to stovetop baking.
Serve with a dish of olive oil and salt for dipping.