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Italian Focaccia Bread

Category: Side
Source: Kristen J. Gough, Cuisine at Home magazine

This chewy bread takes some time to prep, but your family will love the texture and taste. Read more in the Crumbs blog.

Prep Time: 45 minutes + rising (x2)
Cook Time: 20 minutes baking
Number of Servings: 1 loaf
Ingredients: For biga (make this the night before):
1 1/2 cups water at room temperature
1 packet instant yeast
1 cup bread flour

For dough:
2 cups bread flour
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar

2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary needles (opt.) 4-5 Tbsp. olive oil 1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt
Directions: 1. Whisk the water and yeast together for the biga in a glass or metal bowl. Add 1 cup flour and whisk until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight (but no more than 16 hours).

2. 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.

3. 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 one minute, until incorporated.

4. 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. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

5. Drizzle 3 tablespoons olive oil in a 9 x 13 inch baking pan; then, use your fingertips to stretch the dough to the corners of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until it's about 1 inch thick, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Top dough with rosemary. Coat your fingers with cooking spray. Make indentions in the dough with your fingertips. Drizzle dough with 4 to 5 more tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer dough to a cooling rack. Focaccia is best served the day it's made.

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