*Updated on November 7th, 2019*
I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t like bread. I mean seriously, who doesn’t like bread? Today we are talking about the delicious thing that is focaccia. That warm, comforting and flavorful bread that can be adapted with so many different flavors and textures. Back in culinary school, I took a two-week bread class that was super intense. My instructor was very talented and made bread baking look so easy. When it really wasn’t.
Everyone in the pastry department knew about “focaccia day”. It probably had a different name but we are just going to go with that because I honestly don’t remember. It was basically the day that the bread class made the famous focaccia that made everyone stop what they were doing in the entire culinary department and plaster their face on the classroom windows to get a peek of the delicious bread.
This wasn’t just any focaccia. We made huge bins of this dough that ballooned out into the air in beautiful bubbles of gas. The entire classroom smelled like yeast, flour, and olive oil and it was absolutely heavenly. We usually made several different types of bread throughout the class but on focaccia day we only made a couple of other recipes than the focaccia to allow the students to really soak up the experience.
We began preparing the ingredients while the dough proofed and the ovens heated. We took aluminum pie pans and lined them in fragrant olive oil. We then began to divide the dough out into rounds for shaping into the pie tins before allowing them to proof a second time. It was basically an adult pizza party at this point where we took every topping imaginable and decorated our “pies” to our liking. The result was the best focaccia bread that I still have ever tasted- I mean people were literally fighting over pieces of this stuff. At this point it looked like a paparazzi outside the classroom because people from other classes were so packed against the windows that they looked like sardines, knowing that they got to taste anything that our class didn’t eat first.
One of the cool things that I always appreciated from my time at JWU is that any food that wasn’t enjoyed by the students or faculty was promptly boxed up at the end of every class and donated to food banks in the area. Man, if I was homeless I would love to know what food bank they donated too because pretty much all the food that came out of those kitchens was top notch.
The recipe I am sharing with you today is just as flavorful as the focaccia memory I just shared with you, but maybe not as grand. Our chef did bring his personal recipe from his time working at a five-star resort in Europe so what can I say. I chose to use whole wheat flour in this version but of course, for a more traditional bread, you could also use high gluten bread flour. Make it your own and of course, don’t forget to share your focaccia with everyone! The best thing about food is sharing it with friends and family!
- 20 Grams Fresh yeast You may also use instant or rapid rise yeast, just divide amount by a third.
- 1 1/3 – 1 1/2 Cups Warm water
- 3 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
- 500 Grams Unbleached white bread flour I used a whole grain flour and that worked as well!
- 2 Tsp. salt
- 1 Tbsp. Fresh sage, chopped You may also experiment with other types of herbs!
- olive oil
- Garlic cloves, roasted and chopped
- Sage leaves, fresh
- Sun dried tomatoes
- 1) Mise en place all necessary bowls and equipment needed.
- 2) Cream warm water and yeast together and allow mixture to begin foaming. Measure flour into large mixing bowl and add yeast mixture to flour. Add olive oil, salt and any herbs you decide to use. You can either mix dough by hand but I prefer to let my Kitchenaid do the work. I mixed my dough on 1st speed until it was smooth to the touch and cleanly pulls away from the sides, maybe about 10 minutes. I live in a very dry climate so I needed to adjust the water accordingly while mixing the dough. Feel free to adjust your recipe as well to suit your needs. Focaccia is intended to be a wetter dough so don’t be scared to add some moisture to your dough!
- 3) I like to use the same bowl to proof my dough so I decided to take my dough out of the same bowl and generously oil it down with olive oil. Place dough back into the bowl and turn to fully cover it with the oil. Let rise until it has doubled in size.
- 4) Once the dough is doubled in size knock it back and portion into baking dishes. I decided to portion mine into well-oiled cake pans. It is important to allow the dough to rest in between steps to avoid tearing the gluten strands and creating a tough bread. Gently pat your dough into the shape of the pan before allowing it to rise for the second time. Begin preheating your oven to 400° F and prep your toppings.
- 5) Place your toppings on the rounds of Focaccia right before the dough is ready to bake. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden. Remove focaccia from the oven and allow to cool. Cut and enjoy! I made my Focaccia rounds into an Italian veggie sandwich and that was super good!