Have you tried focaccia before? The chewy Italian bread is almost across between a thick pizza crust and a crusty French bread. And it’s dimpled all over the top with indents that act as little pools for olive oil. Mmmmmm.

I’ll admit—good focaccia takes time to craft. You’ll need to create a starter dough, or biga, the night before you plan on making the dough. And the bread will need a couple rounds of rising. But none of the steps are difficult–you just need a little patience. Sure, there’s plenty of recipes with shortcuts, some even call for using pizza dough in place of the spongy focaccia bread, but I promise the effort is worth it.

You’ll want to serve the focaccia hot from the oven. I try to only use half of the bread the first night. And with the leftovers, I make Italian sandwiches the next night using slices of ham, salami, pepperoncini (also called banana peppers), tomato, lettuce and mayo mixed with a little pesto (you could also use Italian salad dressing). See, so at least if you go to all the effort of making focaccia you should have enough for a couple meals—that’s if you family doesn’t dig in and eat it all the first night!

Recipe

*From an old, well-worn copy of Cuisine at Home magazine

Servings: 1 loaf Prep time: 45 minutes + rising (x2) + 20 minutes baking

For Biga:

(Make this the night before)

1 1/2 cups water at room temperature

1 packet instant yeast

1 cup bread flour

For the dough:

2 cups bread flour

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary needles (opt.)

4-5 Tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

  1. Whisk the water and yeast together for the biga in a glass or metal bowl.
  2. Add 1 cup flour and whisk until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight (but no more than 16 hours).
  3. Before preparing the dough, bring the biga to room temperature, setting it on the counter for at least one hour. It will be thick and foamy.
  4. Combine the biga and 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons salt and sugar for the dough in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on low speed for 1 minute until incorporated.
  5. Transfer dough to a bowl coated with cooking spray. Pull the dough up and over itself until its top is smooth, then coat with spray.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 11/2 to 2 hours.
  7. Drizzle 3 Tablespoons olive oil in a 9×13 inch baking pan, then use your fingertips to stretch the dough to the corners of the pan.
  8. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until it’s about 1 inch thick, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  9. Preheat oven to 400.
  10. Top dough with rosemary. Coat your fingers with cooking spray. Make indentions in the dough with your fingertips.
  11. Drizzle dough with 4 to 5 more tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt. (I usually only use 2.)
  12. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer dough to a cooling rack.
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