Don't be intimidated by bread-making, this recipe is easier to make than you think!
I can’t tell you how easy this is to make. Baking bread from scratch can seem overwhelming and messy, but this recipe doesn’t even require kneading it by hand as long as you have a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Your hands will hardly even get dirty! And trust me, the heavenly smell of freshly baked bread in your home will make it worth every single second. Oh yeah, it also tastes amazing.
You can get so creative with the toppings here, too! There are endless combinations. Caramelized onions, kalamata olives, goat cheese…
While your active time with this recipe is minimal, it does take some time for the dough to go through its rising cycles. Just make sure you start the recipe 3-4 hours before you want to eat the bread. And here’s a tip: this bread is best the day it’s made. Make it earlier in the day rather than later so that you leave yourself plenty of time to eat as much of it as possible! If you do have leftovers, the texture gets a little spongier. Just pop the bread in the oven for a few minutes to crisp the top a little bit, rather than eating the bread at room temperature.
I know that using yeast can be intimidating. But as long as you follow the recipe and use water at the right temperature, you should be fine. Too much salt or sugar can kills yeast, so don’t go off-recipe with those ratios. And in order for yeast to bloom properly (at least the dry active yeast called for in this recipe), your water should be between 105 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit when you add the yeast itself. Yeast dies at 120 degrees, so just be careful that your water isn’t too hot! Too cold and it won’t activate. You’ll know within ten minutes whether it’s working or not. When you add the yeast to the water, it should “bloom” or create a foamy-looking mass on the surface of the water. And it will smell “yeasty.” If this doesn’t happen, something went wrong and you just need to try again.
Last note: Focaccia is traditionally baked in sheet pans. The pan that I use is an odd shape because I have a weird oven. Just make sure the surface area is 130-180 square inches (surface area is length x width, just in case you forgot!). Mine is 132 square inches and creates a really tall focaccia. A bigger surface area will yield flatter bread.
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Use the paddle on your stand mixer.
Add water to bowl of stand mixer, making sure it’s the right temperature even after you add it to the bowl (if the bowl is cool then it can lower the temperature enough that your yeast might not bloom). Run the mixer for a few seconds to dissolve the yeast into the water. Let sit for 10 minutes. Make sure your yeast has bloomed, otherwise start again!
Add salt and flour to the yeast/water mixture with the mixer on medium speed. Start with 4 cups of flour and add 2 tablespoons at a time until the dough begins to pull away from the bowl, becoming elastic.
Coat a large bowl with olive oil. Use a spatula to move the dough from the mixing bowl to the olive-oil coated bowl. Turn the dough in the bowl to cover with oil. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm, dry spot until dough doubles in size. This should take 60-90 minutes.
Coat your baking pan with oil. Transfer the dough to the baking pan. Punch down the dough, spreading it out to roughly fill the pan. Let rise in a warm, dry place until the dough doubles in size. This should take 45-75 minutes.
Punch down the dough one more time. Let rise 30 minutes in a warm, dry place.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Use your fingers to make indentations in the dough (this will make crevices to catch the yummy olive oil, rosemary and salt!). Drizzle with 3 tablespoons of oil and sprinkle chopped rosemary evenly over the surface. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the surface is golden-brown.
Brush the remaining oil over the top of the bread with a pastry brush. Sprinkle the flaky sea salt over the surface. Cut and serve warm. Try not to eat the entire pan!