Seasoned with little more than olive oil and crunchy sea salt, focaccia is an ancient flatbread that is unexpectedly easy to make. Once a staple at Caroline Fidanza’s now-closed sandwich shop, Saltie, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, this recipe from the “Saltie: A Cookbook” is perfect on its own, but also serves as a base upon which you can experiment. If you want to alter its flavor, sprinkling some aromatic dry herbs on top of the dough provides deep savory notes. Or decorate it vibrantly with the vegetables and fresh herbs of your choosing for an Instagram-worthy focaccia garden (see Tip).
- Serves: 9 persons
- 3 ¼cups/415 grams all-purpose flour
- 1tablespoon kosher salt
- ½teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 ¾cups/420 milliliters warm water
- 4tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
- 1 ½teaspoons coarse sea salt
- Whole or chopped fresh rosemary leaves, dried oregano, fennel seeds, herbes de Provence or other dried herbs, for garnish (optional)
Step 1In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, kosher salt and yeast. Add the warm water to the flour mixture and stir until all the flour is incorporated and a sticky dough forms. (Expect a very wet dough; no kneading required.) Pour 2 tablespoons oil into a medium bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl, turn to coat, and cover tightly with a lid or plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator to rest for at least 24 hours or for up to 2 days.
Step 2When you’re ready to bake, brush the inside of a 9-by-13-inch baking sheet with oil. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and transfer to the prepared pan. Using your hands, spread the dough out as much as possible, adding oil to the dough if needed to keep it from sticking. (Don’t worry if the dough doesn’t yet cover the full pan; it will once it relaxes and rises.) Place the dough in a warm place and let rise until about doubled in bulk. The rising time will vary considerably depending on the season. (In the summer, it may take only 20 minutes for the dough to warm up and rise; in the winter, it can take 1 hour or more.) When the dough is ready, it should be room temperature, spread out on the sheet and fluffy.
Step 3Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Using your palms, pat down the focaccia to an even thickness of about 1 inch, then, using your fingertips, dimple the entire dough. Drizzle it with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle the entire surface of the focaccia evenly with the sea salt and herbs, if using.
Step 4Bake, rotating once front to back, until the top is uniformly golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the focaccia on the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool, then slide out of the pan. Enjoy it hot. (Focaccia deteriorates in quality after the first day. If there is some left over, wrap it tightly in plastic and store at room temperature for another day. Day-old focaccia is delicious in soup.)