I love focaccia breads, one of the best breads I’ve ever eaten. I’ve made whole wheat focaccia before, a quick version and the thought of making an authentic one lingered in my mind for long. I usually like the quick, short cut version of a recipe that saves my time and sometimes I do make exceptions like this one. Though the preparation time spans for 2 days it’s totally worth it, you don’t have to take my word but do see for yourself, the result of the yeast working slowly on the dough causing the bread to be super spongy. The recipe is by Peter Reinhart and hands down its one of the best fool-proof recipe for focaccia you can find in the whole wide world. If you can read and follow instructions I promise you’ll be rewarded with a focaccia bread that’ll put restaurant’s and bakery’s bread to shame.
I topped the bread with onion and thyme, the options are endless on the type and amount of topping. My family’s verdict –“This is by far the best bread I’ve baked” and I do agree completely. The next time I’m planning to top them with Jalapeno peppers and cheese or may be rosemary and olives. While I’m thinking about what to top my next focaccia with, why don’t you start the basic dough with the recipe below…
Combine flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a bowl.
Add water and make the dough and the dough is supposed to be sticky!
Grease a large bowl that can hold when the dough doubles in size with Olive Oil.
Use the stretch and fold technique 4 times and coat the dough with olive oil again.
Cover completely with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or at least 8 to 10 hrs.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Coat 2 Tbsp of olive oil.
Dough after overnight refrigeration. I was so happy to see the bubbles meaning the yeast did its work.
Transfer the dough on to the cookie sheet.
Add olive oil and spread lightly without tugging or pulling the dough, be gentle! Leave it for 20 minutes and the dough will be more flexible for your to spread the cookie sheet.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rise for 3 hours.
Well done, if you reached this step. Now, all you need to add is the topping and pop it in the oven.
Sautee garlic, onions, dried thyme, salt, pepper in a olive oil until the onions turn translucent.
Preheat oven to 475F, 30 minutes before baking. Reduce heat to 450F. Add the topping on the dough. Bake for 15 minutes or until the top and the bottom of the bread turns golden brown.
Cool completely on wire rack before cutting and serving. Super good job on baking the best bread ever….now what are you waiting for, Enjoy!!!
- Unbleached Bread Flour --- 5 1/2 cups
- Cold Water (about 55°F) --2 1/2 cups
- Granulated Sugar -- 2 Tbsp + 1 tsp
- Salt -- 2 tsp
- Instant yeast (also called quick-rise, rapid-rise, or fast-rising yeast) -- 1 packet (1/4 oz)
- Extra-virgin olive oil -- 8 Tbsp
- Garlic -- 4 medium pods (finely chopped)
- Onion(sliced) -- 1 cup
- Dried Thyme -- 1 tsp
- Sea Salt & Pepper for topping -- to taste
- Combine the flour, water, sugar, salt, and yeast in a large bowl; have a bowl of lukewarm water standing by. With a large wet spoon or one hand, mix the ingredients. Repeatedly dipping the spoon or your hand in the water will help keep the dough from sticking. Rotate the bowl with your free hand while stirring with the other until a wet, shaggy dough forms, 2 to 3 minutes. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes and then mix for another 2 minutes until the dough is relatively smooth but quite sticky. The dough will resemble melted cheese.
- Coat a bowl large enough to hold the dough when it doubles in size with 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl and rotate the dough to coat it with the oil.
- Now time to do the stretch-and-fold technique. Holding the bowl firmly with one hand, lift the dough with other hand and stretch it to nearly twice its size. Now fold the stretched dough back over the dough and turn the bowl a quarter turn. Repeat three more times completing a full rotation for a total of 4 quarter turns. Add 1 Tbsp of olive oil over the dough and flip over to coat completely. Wrap the bowl completely with plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight it overnight or for atleast 8 to 10 hours.
- Plan ahead and shape the dough atleast 3 hours before you intend to bake it. The dough should have nearly doubled in size. Cover a 12x17 inch rimmed baking sheet or cookie sheet with parchment paper. Grease the paper with 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Slide the dough either with a rubber spatula or a dough scrapper from the bowl on to the center of the baking sheet. The dough will drop on its own weight. Be gentle and not punch the dough as we need the dough to retain its airy gluten that'll bake the bread with nice holes. Drizzle 2 Tbs. of the olive oil on top of the dough. (Don't worry if some rolls off onto the pan; it will all be absorbed eventually.)
- Using the tip of your fingers, gently press the dough and push them from the center toward the edges of the baking sheet making small hollows on the dough in the process. The dough may not spread at first. If that happens don't force the dough, set it aside for 20 minutes. Now drizzle 1 Tbsp of olive oil over the surface and push the dough and you'll be able to cover the entire sheet. Don't worry if the edges are not covered as they'll be after they rise. The dough should be 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap, put the pan on a rack to let air circulate around it, and let the dough rise at room temperature until it's about 1-1/2 times its original size. This will take 2 to 3 hours, depending on the temperature of the room.
- Thirty minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 475°F. Prepare the topping. Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil and add chopped garlic, onions, dried thyme, salt, and pepper. Fry till the onion turns translucent. Switch off flame and let it cool. When ready to bake, remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the toppings over the dough and some more sea salt (optional). Put the pan in the middle of the hot oven and reduce the heat to 450°F. After 7 minutes, rotate the pan to ensure even baking. Bake for additional 8 minutes. The top and the bottom of the bread should be golden brown.
- Set a cooling rack over a sheet of aluminum foil or parchment (to catch drippings). Use a metal spatula to release the dough from the sides of the pan. Slide the spatula under one end of the focaccia and jiggle it out of the pan onto the rack. If any oil remains in the pan, pour it evenly over the focaccia's surface. Carefully remove the parchment or silicone liner from beneath the focaccia. Let cool for 20 minutes before cutting and serving.
I used 8 Tbsp of olive oil instead of 10 as per the original recipe. The bread was done in 15 minutes in my oven. The original recipe required 22 minutes of baking. So please check if the bread is golden brown, if not bake for additional 7 minutes plus or minus a minute. The baking time totally depends on the type of oven you own. The bread did bake well in a 12x17 inch pan but the original recipe asked for a 13x18 inch pan. If you do not own either size pans, the dough can be split in to two different pans half the size and baked as two loafs.
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