Focaccia bread should be your new thing!
Why? Because its super versatile and does whatever you want!
Need a snooty high end hamburger bun? Focaccia Bread.
Want something to show off your fancy oven roasted veggies? Focacia Bread.
Thinking about slathering cheese and garlic on something?
You guessed it. Focaccia bread is so versatile you can enjoy it in lots of different ways.
Focaccia is a traditional Italian bread similar to pizza. It can be baked in a slab or round shape and topped with a variety of oils, herbs, olives, and caramelized or roasted vegetables.
Focaccia is wonderfully versatile!
When served with savory toppings it can accompany a salad and make a fabulous light meal. It goes great with soup, or if you choose to eat it the way my family does,
Devour the whole thing,warm from the oven.
If you’re ready to take your bread baking to the next level, you’ll love this easy method that will give you results you can be proud of!Jump to Recipe
I’m using the paddle attachment of my KitchenAid mixer for this dough. It is a very soft ( or high hydration dough) and doesn’t have enough structure for the dough hook. I highly recommend getting a KitchenAid mixer if you don’t already have one.
Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you
Introduction to using starters
What sets this focaccia recipe apart from most others is the addition of a poolish.
A poolish is a pre-ferment that is started ahead of the main dough, given time to rest and create chemical activity and then added to the final dough to improve the end product. The use of a pre-ferment is commonly done by most artisan bread bakers because it greatly improves the quality of your final product.
There are lots of different terms used for pre ferments, depending on the different qualities they add and the country of origin. ( Italian and French names are most familiar)
Natural Yeast Pre Ferments
This type of starter relies on the growth of naturally occurring yeasts to give the bread its leavening and impart a complex flavor. These types of starters are generally kept on a feeding schedule that can continue their life beyond single use.
Some common terms used for this are: sourdough and levain.
Commercial Yeast Pre Ferments
This type of starter uses a commercial yeast and is baked off the next day. When more is needed it gets remixed.
Some common terms used for this are: Pate fermente, biga, and the poolish used in this recipe.
One of the fun parts about this recipe is customizing it exactly how you like! Top this chewy slab of bread with whatever strikes your fancy. Any combination of oils, herbs, vegetables, and olives work well.
My personal favorite focaccia toppings are…
- Sun Dried tomato and basil
- Thinly sliced habaneros and Monterrey jack cheese
- Caramelized onion and rosemary
- Pitted kalamata olives, red pepper, and provolone
This recipe used the following ingredients:
All purpose flour– 1 3/4 cup , 280 g, or 100%
*Note that it doesn’t call for bread flour. This dough is soft enough that it doesn’t need the structure that a high protein flour like bread flour would give it.
Salt– 1 tsp, 8g, or 2%.
Water– 3/4 cup, 200g or 70%
Yeast– 2 tsp, 7g, or 1%
Poolish– all, or 500g.
I’ve written the recipe for weights, measurements and percentages. When I’m making bread I prefer to use weights for a couple reasons.
- It’s more accurate
- I keep most of my bread recipes in percentages and adjust the size as needed. (comes in handy when I want to bake small batches for my family and large batches in the bakery)
If you want to learn more about sizing recipes using baker’s percentages or want more info about dough hydration, click the link below to get my Artisan Bread Baking Guide as a free download.
At least 12 hours before you want to bake this bread, you’ll need to mix the poolish starter. The use of a starter in this recipe gives the focaccia a soft and spongy texture with an open crumb structure.
To mix the poolish starter: in a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, water and yeast. Using a spoon, stir the ingredients until they are well combined. It will look a little like pancake batter. Cover and let it sit at room temperature for 8-16 hours. The temperature of the room will determine exactly how long you leave the poolish out before you start the dough. You’ll know it’s ready when the surface is covered with tiny bubbles.
Measure flour, yeast, salt and water and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment pour in water and poolish starter. Add the flour and mix on low for 3 minutes. ( we’re holding back the salt and yeast till later)
The dough will look like thick batter for the first few minutes.
Turn the speed up to medium high on your stand mixture. Continue to beat the dough on medium speed for about 8-10 minutes.
It’s going to look like a mess, then it magically comes together!
After about 8-10 minutes, the batter will pull away from the sides and get a smooth look.
Viola! This is what you’re waiting for.
Now it’s time to add the salt and yeast.
Be careful not to forget this step. Holding back the salt and yeast helps to develop the gluten a little more. You’ll be so disappointed in the final results if you forget to add them!
Add the salt and yeast to the dough and continue to mix on medium speed for another 3 minutes.
When the dough is done mixing, pour it into a large container that has been well oiled with olive or canola oil.
Let dough rest Folding in sides
Allow the dough to rest for 45 minutes. With oiled or wet hands pick up each side of the dough and fold it in on itself. If you’re using a round bowl, just pull a portion of the dough up to slightly stretch it and then fold it in on itself. And repeat 4 times.
Let the dough rest for another 45 minutes.
Time to place the dough into the baking pan. First, generously spray a 9in by 13 in pan with pan spray or brush with olive oil.
Pour the proofed dough into the pan.
Pouring dough into pan Even dough with fingertips Put on your favorite toppings
Using your finger tips, press the dough into the corners of the pan.
Place the toppings of your choice on top of the dough.
I like to proof the focaccia with the toppings already on it so they sink down into the dough a little.
Set a timer for 30 minutes. At the same time, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
After the focaccia is fully proofed, bake at 350 for about 40 minutes.
Allow to fully cool before cutting.
Because we used a poolish starter, this bread will stay soft and spongy for a few days!
( if it lasts that long)Print Recipe
Classic Bread Starter
- 1 cup Water
- 1 3/4 cups All Purpose flour
- 1/8 tsp Yeast
- In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, water and yeast to make a wet batter.
- Cover and leave at room temperature for 4-24 hours. In warmer months, use a shorter time, in cold weather use longer amount of time.
- The poolish starter is ready when the surface is covered in tiny bubbles.
Soft and Fluffy Focaccia Bread Recipe
- Stand Mixer with hook attachment
- Large mixing bowl
- Sheet pan or baking dish
- 1 cup Water cool
- 1 3/4 cups All purpose flour
- 1/8 tsp Active dry yeast use a pinch and save remaining packet for the dough.
- All Starter
- 3/4 cups Water cool
- 2 Cups All Purpose flour
- 1 tsp Salt
- 2 tsp Yeast Remainder of the yeast packet
- The night before (or at least 4 hours prior to mixing the dough) combine the ingredients for the starter. In a medium bowl, stir together: 1 cup of water, 1 3/4 cups of flour, and a pinch of yeast. Stir everything together until well combined. Cover it with plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature overnight.
- The next day, mix the focaccia dough. In the bowl of a stand mixer, pour the water and all of the starter from the day before.
- Add the flour, BUT NOT THE SALT or YEAST.
- Mix on low speed for 3 minutes to combine the ingredients.
- Increase the speed to medium high and beat the mixture for 8-10 minutes. Watch for the dough to transform from a wet batter to a stringy dough. After you begin to see strands, it should pull off the sides of the mixer and come together as a dough. ( roughly 8-10 minutes)
- Turn the mixer off and add the yeast and salt. Mix on low to incorporate, then increase the speed to medium and mix for 3 more minutes.
- Place the dough in a well oiled container. Cover and let rest for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes stretch and fold the dough in on itself 4 times. ( as if it had 4 sided and you are pulling each side up, and into the center) Flip the dough over so the bottom becomes the top and has a smooth surface.
- Allow the dough to rest for and additional 45 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 350°. Spray or oil a 9 by 13 in baking pan.
- Pour the dough into the oiled pan and gently push the sides of the dough into the corner of the pan. Use your fingertips to dimple the bread and help to evenly spread it around the pan.
- Add the toppings of your choice. (I like to add caramelized onions, a drizzle of olive oil and a little sprinkle of sea salt)
- Allow to rest for 30 minutes while the oven preheats.
- Bake the bread in the center of the oven for 35-45 minutes. Once the bread is baked and cool enough to touch, remove it from the baking pan and place on a cooling rack to prevent the bottom from getting soggy. Cut into 12 squares.
- Enjoy your fresh focaccia! To store the bread place in a sealed container of large zip lock.
If you enjoyed this focaccia recipe, here are a few other bread recipes to check out.
Remember, if you make this recipe. share it for all to see!