This recipe was sprung off a recipe in Bonnie Ohara’s “Bread Baking for Beginners.” This is a big favourite in our house – on a large sheet pan, we get enough for several extremely delicious sandwiches. I have a kitchen scale at home so I just weigh out the ingredients based off the measurements suggested by Bonnie Ohara.
- 12 grams instant yeast
- 565 grams lukewarm water
- 750 grams all-purpose flour (+1-2 cups flour for kneading)
- 15 grams salt
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1-2 tbsp Italian herb mix (more or less, to taste)
- ½-1 tbsp fresh chopped garlic (or powder), or more to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
Yield: 1 large sheet pan (approx. 12-15 sandwich-sized squares)
In a large bowl, weigh the water. In a separate small bowl, weigh the instant yeast and then add to the water, swishing with your fingers. Set aside while you measure the other 2 ingredients and let the yeast foam a bit.
Add the flour to the water and yeast and the salt last. With a big wooden spoon, mix the ingredients until you have a shaggy dough that more-or-less stays together. Cover with a towel and let the dough relax for 20 minutes.
Liberally flour a surface and turn the dough out onto it. Knead approx. 10 minutes until the dough becomes a tight, stretchy ball. Return to the bowl and let rise, covered with a towel for approx. 1.5 hours.
Depending on many factors (for me it’s usually the type of yeast or temperature in my house) your dough may be ready early. Take a peak at the 1 hour mark just to be sure. You’re ready for the next stage when the dough has doubled in size.
Place one oven rack on the bottom-most level of your oven and another in the middle. Preheat oven to 475o.
Place a metal or other thick bottomed roasting pan on the bottom rack of your oven with 1/2-1 inch layer of water. This creates steam which helps the focaccia rise.
Oil your rimmed sheet pan with olive oil (note: a cookie sheet will not work, it needs to be rimmed) making sure to cover the bottom and edges. Gently turn your dough out onto the oiled sheet pan and, using your fingers, stretch the dough toward the corners of the pan. Be gentle as you go – if the dough doesn’t want to stay in the corner, don’t force it. Give it a few minutes and try again. You want to maintain the lovely air structure inside the dough and forcing it will make for a flatter focaccia.
Dimple the top of the dough with your fingers and when you’re satisfied with its shape, add your toppings. In this case, brush olive oil over the top and sprinkle the Italian seasonings, garlic, and salt and pepper.
Immediately put the focaccia in the oven on the middle rack, baking with the steam for 10 minutes. Then, let the steam out of the oven and remove the roasting pan with water. Continue to bake the focaccia another 10-15 minutes, until the focaccia is nicely browned on top. Keep an eye on it – I’ve had the focaccia ready as early as 8 minutes.
Let the focaccia cool on the baking sheet for 20 minutes before cutting and serving. Or don’t – we seldom have the restraint in our house.