Focaccia Bread

Focaccia2 loaves - 6-8 slices each 
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen Rosemary Focaccia
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour 
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 1/4 teaspoon rapid rise yeast

  • Dough 
  • 2 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 1 teaspoon rapid rise yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt (plus some for pans)
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Seasoning (Italian, rosemary, etc.)

  • For the Biga:
    Mix the flour, water, and yeast in large bowl and stir with wooden spoon until uniform mass forms and no dry flour remains. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature (about 70 degrees) overnight (at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.) Use immediately or store in refrigerator for up to 3 days (allow to stand at room temperature 30 minutes before proceeding with recipe.)

    On with the dough:
    Mix flour, water, and yeast into biga with wooden spoon until uniform mass forms and no dry flour remains, about 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 15 minutes.

    Sprinkle the salt over the dough; stir into dough until thoroughly incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature 30 minutes.

    Spray rubber spatula or bowl scraper with nonstick cooking spray; fold partially risen dough over itself by gently lifting and folding edge of dough toward middle. Turn bowl 90 degrees; fold again. Turn bowl and fold dough 6 more times (total of 8 turns). Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes.

    Repeat folding, turning, and rising 2 more times, for total of three 30-minute rises.

    Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position, place baking stone on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees at least 30 minutes before baking.

    Gently transfer dough to lightly floured counter. Lightly dust top of dough with flour and divide in half. Shape each piece of dough into 5-inch round by gently tucking under edges.

    Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with 2 tablespoons olive oil in each, and sprinkle each pan with about 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Place round of dough in pan, top side down; slide dough around pan to coat bottom and sides, then flip over. Repeat with second piece of dough. Cover pans with plastic wrap and let rest for 5 minutes. 

    Using your fingertips, press dough out toward edges of pan. Using dinner fork, poke surface of dough 25 to 30 times, popping any large bubbles. Sprinkle Italian seasoning- or whatever seasoning you are using -evenly over the dough. Let dough rest until slightly bubbly, 5 to 10 minutes.

    Place pans on rack and reduce oven temperature to 450 degrees F. Bake until tops are golden brown, 25 to 28 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking. I would suggest if you would like to add some Parmesan cheese to the loaves, that you add it when you are rotating the pans.

    Transfer pans to wire rack and let cool 5 minutes. Remove loaves from pan and return to wire rack. Brush tops with any oil remaining in pan. Add extra cheese if you would like.  Let cool 30 minutes before serving.