Best. Focaccia. Ever.

Foccaccia

I was planning an Italian dinner for my friend Margo and her family recently and I wanted to bake a bread that would appeal to her son Danny who’s as picky as any four-year-old can be.

I pondered my Rustic Tuscan Loaf and my Whole-Wheat Ciabatta, but I wasn’t quite sure that these fantastic but rather adult breads would hold the required kid appeal. Until I hit upon the idea of this cloud-like focaccia.

The focaccia recipes I’ve made in the past (including this one from Tal Ronnen) have been pretty good, but not captivating. As I pondered how to make a better focaccia, fate intervened: when I walked into the kitchen and turned on the TV (yes, I plead guilty to watching too much TV), an episode for America’s Test Kitchen was just coming on. And they were making focaccia.Focaccia recipe

So I watched the chef’s rather unusual technique which involved creating a rather wet batter not unlike that used for a ciabatta bread, and doing away with most of the kneading. The resulting bread was soft and chewy but also really airy rather than dense as focaccia usually is.

I loved the idea and adapted the technique to my own focaccia recipe (which includes sourdough instead of a biga), not least because it sounded really easy. And who doesn’t like easy?

I made a rather wet batter, added the salt after 15 minutes, folded it over instead of kneading it, and then baked it up in two round cake pans. The bread popped up rather high in the oven, making me wonder if it had formed an undesirable skin on top.

It didn’t. Instead, the bread was soft and cloud-like, with a soft but slightly crisp golden crust. It was, hands-down, the best focaccia I’ve ever made or eaten.

I wasn’t the only one tickled about it. As Danny ate piece after piece, he declared: “This is really good bread.”

Good enough for me.

Focaccia bread
Focaccia
Focaccia Recipe
 
Cook time
Total time
 
A light and airy focaccia, quite likely the best you will ever make or eat.
Author:
Recipe type: Bread
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: Makes 2 loaves
Ingredients
  • 1 cup sourdough
  • 4½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2¼ cups warm water
  • For the topping:
  • 2 tbsp finely minced sage or rosemary
  • 1 large clove of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Mix the toppings together in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the yeast in ½ cup of water and set aside to froth for five minutes.
  3. After five minutes, add the sourdough to the yeast. Then add the flour, oil, and the remaining water and mix with a wooden spoon until everything comes together. This is a very sticky dough at this stage, but it’s fine. That’s what will make it divinely airy and light.
  4. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and place in an oven with the pilot light on, about 1½ hours or until it has doubled in size.
  5. Using an oiled spatula, turn the dough over on itself in the bowl. Repeat 9 more times. You don’t want to knead the dough with a heavy hand.
  6. Turn the dough over on a generously floured surface. Cut into two with a bench scraper or a knife, then shape each half into a round. Be gentle so you don’t deflate all the lovely gases that have formed in your focaccia loaf.
  7. Place each round in a 10-inch cake pan coated with oil and sprinkled with some coarse sea salt. Press the dough gently out from the center so it reaches the sides of the pan.
  8. Cover both pans with plastic wrap and place in the oven with the pilot on for another hour or until the dough has doubled.
  9. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees at least 30 minutes before baking.
  10. Using a fork, prick the dough all over to remove any bubbles on top. Don’t go heavy-handed because you don’t want to deflate the dough.
  11. Brush the top of the bread with the sage-olive oil mixture. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.
  12. Remove the focaccia tins from the oven and let them stand on a rack for five minutes. Remove the bread from the pans and continue to cool on the rack.
***
Desi and I planted this cherry blossom the year after we moved to our house. It was no more than a single twig, about two feet tall, when we put it into the soil. Six years on, it is a handsome little tree that ushers in spring with thousands of tiny white flowers with hearts of pink.
(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Comments

  1. says

    I love focaccia bread. Love it, the ease of making, the taste etc. Your breads, like the ciabatta are always great. When you mentioned wetness it reminded me of a 2010 Mother Earth News article including a wet, no-knead bread loaf William Rubel came up with. The concept was so fascinating I wrote about it in Jan 2011.
    Notice in your second photo the side view of the focaccia. When you see those holes in the bread there, that is a sign of good baking.
    I usually make focaccia from my pizza dough recipe, but actually, your recipe here is better. I’ll try this soon, your photographs
    are exquisite. Thanks for this.

    • says

      Anthony, I keep hearing great things about no-knead breads too, but this was my first (unless you count Irish soda bread). I think I’ll be trying more recipes for no-knead breads now that I’m more of a believer. I have to check out your post.

  2. says

    Oh how I wish I was your neighbor!
    The focaccia looks lovely, loved the picture of the piece you have cut, shows how perfectly baked and hole-y it is!
    The cherry blossoms are beautiful. The close up of the flower is awesome.

  3. Anonymous says

    Thank you for this recipe! I want to try it. Would you help me know how to make it, however, using a biga, or without the addition of sourdough? I am new to baking bread and don’t know how to make adaptions yet. Thank you and enjoy your day!

    • says

      Anonymous, Mix 1/2 cup of water with 3/4 cup of flour and 1/2 tsp of yeast. Mix it well and let it stand for at least 8 hours or overnight. It should be frothy and bubbly and when you pull it off the side of the bowl you should see lots of air holes. Use it in the recipe instead of the sourdough.

    • Anonymous says

      Thank you. I’m going to get this operation started right away! :-)

      Is the 1/2 tsp yeast (in the water/flour/yeast mix) in addition to the 2 tsp in the original recipe or is it taken from the 2 tsp yeast?

  4. says

    Hi…you have mentioned 1 cup sourdough….can u please explain how to make it…i have made your multigrain bread and wholewheat bread and they came out very good, but i have never made sourdough bread…

  5. says

    Hi Vaishali, Thanks for the foccacia recipe! Its one of my most favorite breads. I read through the comments and it cleared my doubt about substituting sour dough. Thanks!

  6. says

    Your foccacia looks so perfect! It’s a bread that I haven’t tried to make before so I might have to tuck your recipe away for a rainy day.

  7. Jenn says

    I just wanted to let you know that you are my fave vegan blogger. I have tried MANY of your recipes and they all come out great! I made several of your dishes for Christmas and even some of my non-vegan family gobbled them up. Thank you so much for all the great info and recipes. :)

    Jenn

  8. Michaela says

    I tried this receipe today with wholegrain-spelt flour and it didnt work – I’m pretty new to baking bread so I dont know why it didnt rise, it remained flat (although it still tasted good – i called it mediterranean flat bread :-)).
    Anyway – can you help me out? Why it didnt rise?
    I used the same ingredients as mentioned above and after adding the sourdough and yeast,etc. it actually rose quite substantially but during the baking process it remained the same size and didnt rise anymore … so in the end it was a 1cm high flatbread.
    Is wholegrain-spelt flour to heavy to rise (I also used a little more yeast) ?
    Focaccia is by far my fav. bread so I’d love to bake one … but it has to be of wholegrain flour (no wheat!) and totally vegan and also without any sugar … can you help me out with any tips ?
    PS: I love your blog,
    I appreciate any help since I’m a bread-baking beginner :-)

  9. says

    Michaela, this focaccia recipe uses all-purpose flour which has a much higher gluten content than wholegrain spelt flour. Your dough rose initially because of the yeast, but the absence of gluten meant that your bread did not have any structural strength, and it fell flat in the oven instead of becoming light and fluffy. If you absolutely can’t or won’t use wheat, try using a gluten-free flour blend. Use 1/2 cup of water to mix the yeast, just like the instructions say, but replace the remaining water with carbonated water or club soda which might add some lightness to your dough. Let me know if it works.

  10. Michaela says

    Alright, thank you, i will try that on the weekend and let you know.
    Do you also believe it would work if i double or triple the amount of sourdough and/or yeast used ?

  11. Anonymous says

    Hi, I just wanted to thank you for sharing this recipe. I was searching the internet for recipes to try with my discarded sourdough starter and I came upon your recipe post. I tried it last night and you are right. This is the best focaccia I have ever made or tasted! I think next time I will add a tablespoon or two of rosemary directly into the dough itself for more flavor in addition to the topping.

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