Dave has been a bread-making machine lately, and I’m not hating it. I came home to this deliciousness recently and it was perfection. The inside of the focaccia was soft and pillowy while the outside had just the right amount of chew and the simple, flavorful herb topping made this bread my favorite yet. Apologies for no photos during the making of – I just arrived home to this tasty treat – which I highly recommend trying to arrange for yourself!
4 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
1 3/4 tsp salt or 2 1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt
1 1/4 tsp instant yeast
2 cups chilled water
1 tbs olive oil in the dough plus extra for drizzling
2 cups of olive oil
2 tbs dried parsley
1 tbs fresh rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
Combine flour, salt, yeast and water in mixing bowl. If using a mixer, use paddle and mix on low for one minute and if mixing by hand, use large spoon and stir for about one minute until well blended. The dough should be course and wet – let rest for five minutes. Then drizzle the olive oil over the dough, then resume mixing on medium-low speed for one minute. The dough should become smoother but will still be very soft, sticky and wet. Use a spatula to transfer the dough to a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, then with wet or oiled hands, reach under the front end of the dough, stretch it out, then fold it back onto the top of the dough. Do this from the back end and then from each side, then flip the dough over and tuck it into a ball. The dough should be firmer. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Repeat this entire process three more times, completing all repetitions within 30 to 40 minutes.
Line a 12 by 16 inch pan with parchment paper and oil it generously, including the sides with 2 tbs of olive oil then transfer the dough to the pan. Drizzle another tbs of oil over the top of the dough, then use your fingertips to dimple the dough and spread it to cover about half of the pan. Make sure the top of the dough is coated with oil, then cover the pan (not the dough) tightly with plastic wrap and immediately place the pan in the refrigerator overnight or for up to 4 days.
On the baking day remove the dough from the refrigerator about 2 1/2 hours before you plan to bake. Warm the oven for just a few minutes, then turn it off; or, if you have a gas oven with a pilot light, it’s warm enough without any heating. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on the surface of the dough and, and beginning in the center and working toward the sides, dimple the dough with your fingertips to spread it over more of the pan. The dough will start resisting and sliding back toward the center after a minute of this; stop dimpling at that point, it should now be covering 70 to 80% of the pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and put it in the warm oven (with the heat off). For a gas oven with a pilot light, leave the focaccia in for just 5 minutes. Otherwise, leave it in for about 8 minutes. After the focaccia has been out of the oven for 10 minutes, remove the plastic wrap, drizzle another amount of small olive oil over the dough and dimple it again. This time it should cover 90% of the pan. Cover it again and return it to the warm oven for 5 minutes in a gas oven or 10 to 20 minutes in any other types of ovens. On the third dimpling, the dough should evenly fill the entire pan. If it creeps in from the corners because of the oil, don’t worry; it will fill the corners as it rises. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and proof the dough in the slightly warm oven as before, removing it after 5 to 10 minutes and completing the rise at room temperature. It should be about 1 inch high in 1 – 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Ladle the herb oil (just combine the ingredients for “Toppings” above) over the surface of the dough and place the pan in the oven, then lower the oven temperature to 450 degrees and bake for 12 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until the top of the dough is golden brown.
Remove from oven. Carefully slide the focaccia (and parchment paper) onto a wire rack. If any olive oil remains in the pan, pour it over the top of the bread. Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. EAT! Artisan Breads Everyday by Peter Reinhart is the book that Dave has been making bred from, and it’s all been incredible. Highly recommend!