I’ve made focacia quite a few times now and never until now have I had one that tasted anything different than just a thick pizza dough. THIS. WAS. INCREDIBLE. If you like yeast breads you just have to make this, I can’t emphasize enough how great this was. Plus! It’s a no knead recipe- yay : )
Oh and I have to mention also that it’s another Cook’s Illustrated mastermind recipe. Ugh, the genius. One day I am going to go to Vermont and shake all their hands. But until then I will suffice to praise them through my blog.
This focacia recipe does require a bit of planning ahead, but it is SO worth it. The crust… oh the crust. And the crumb! Oh the crumb… WOW. The focacia dough is baked in a round cake pan that is swimming in olive oil so the crust is practically fried. The oil effect creates a great crispy, crunchy exterior with the perfect amount of give with each bite. And the crumb is incredibly tender with wonderfully large holes and the most perfect chew.
To get the most out of this experience, it is vital to eat it warm out of the oven. That way the crust still has that great contrasting, crunchy texture. It’s still good once it’s cooled and even when you reheat it in the oven. BUT! It will not be anywhere near as good as it is right out of the oven. As it sits it loses the crispiness of the crust which I think is what makes this focacia the best of the best. So I urge you to get yourself a piece after you get it out of the oven. You won’t get the full effect of it’s greatness once it’s cooled.
I realllly want you to try this recipe so I made sure to take lot’s of photo’s for the “how-to”.
So here it is, “How to Make the Best Focacia” :
To begin, you stir up the biga-
1/2 cup flour, 1/3 cup warm water, and 1/4 tsp instant yeast.
Stir it until everything is well mixed, then cover and let it sit at room temperature for 8-24 hours.
Now the easiest, most accurate way to proceed is to use a kitchen scale, but it’s not impossible without one.
To the biga, add 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 1/4 cups warm water, and 1 tsp yeast.
Again, just stir until everything is evenly combined.
Cover and let rest 15 minutes.
After this short rest add 2 tsp salt.
Well, salt inhibits gluten formation as well as yeast activity, so this short wait actually produces a better dough.
So do NOT skip the wait!
Cover the dough and let rise at room temperature 30 minutes.
After the rise, you need to fold the dough onto itself from the side into the center, turning the bowl 90 degrees each turn, for a total of 8 turns and folds.
I think that instruction is a bit confusing and I hope it makes sense.
I tried to demonstrate the motion the best I could with the photo, but who knows if I got the point across.
Basically fold, don’t stir the dough.
Cover the dough and let it rest another 30 minutes.
Repeat with the folding and 30 minute rest again for a total of three 30 minute rises.
Honestly, I thought this was super confusing too.
I couldn’t figure out if there was supposed to be 90 minutes rise time or 120 minutes, counting the initial rise or not.
To be safe I went 120 minutes because another rise isn’t going to hurt the dough, but not letting it rise enough, might.
So after your done with all the confusing rising and folding stuff, it’s time to form the loaves.
Dump the dough onto a well floured surface and divide in two.
The dough is very wet so you will need plenty of flour to avoid sticking.
Shape each half into a 5″ round by just kind of tucking the edges underneath until a circle is achieved.
Coat two 9″ round cake pans with 2 Tb oil each.
It’s a lot of oil, but use it all!
This is what fry’s up the crust and makes it unbelievably delicious.
Sprinkle the bottoms with 1/2 tsp salt each.
Place a round in each pan and slide around to coat well with oil and salt.
Turn the round over so that the bottom oiled part is now the top.
Cover and let sit 5 minutes to relax.
Using your finger tips, press dough out towards edges of pan.
If the dough resists then let it sit for another 5 to 10 minutes.
Using a dinner fork poke the dough about 25 times, trying to pop any large air bubbles.
Sprinkle with Rosemary and let them sit again for another 5 to 10 minutes, until slightly bubbly.
I added some chopped olives on top of my rounds because I just love the rosemary-olive combination.
Bake in an oven that was preheated for 30 minutes at 500 degrees F with a baking stone in it.
Reduce the oven temperature to 450 degrees F immediately and bake 25-28 minutes.
I could only fit one at a time in my tiny German oven, so I just let the other sit on the counter covered and punched it down a bit with my fingers when I was ready to bake it.
I also couldn’t fit a baking stone in my oven.
So if you are in the same situation, don’t worry, the focacia still comes out amazing!
When the focacia comes out let it cool 5 minutes in the pan.
Then remove it and drizzle any remaining oil on top.
I can’t stress enough how much I LOVE this recipe.
It’s kind of a pain and a bit confusing…
but the result!!
OMG, sooooo delicious!
The most perfect textural contrast with the crunch of the crunch and chew of them crumb
Good job again Cooks Illustrated.
- ½ cup (2.5 oz) all purpose flour
- ⅓ cup (2⅔ oz) warm water (100-110 F)
- ¼ tsp instant or rapid rise yeast
- 2½ cups (12.5 oz) all purpose flour, plus extra for shaping
- 1¼ cups (10 oz) warm water (100-110 F)
- 1 tsp instant or rapid rise yeast
- 4 Tb extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tb chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- For the Biga: Combine flour, water, and yeast in large bowl and stir with wooden spoon until uniform mass forms and no dry flour remains, about 1 minute. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature overnight (at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours). Use immediately or store in refrigerator for up to 3 days (allow to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before proceeding with recipe).
- For the Dough: Stir flour, water, and yeast into biga with wooden spoon until uniform mass forms and no dry flour remains, about 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 15 minutes.
- Sprinkle 2 tsp salt over dough; stir into dough until thoroughly incorporated, about 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature 30 minutes. Spray rubber spatula or bowl scraper with nonstick cooking spray; fold partially risen dough over itself by gently lifting and folding edge of dough toward middle. Turn bowl 90 degrees; fold again. Turn dough and fold dough 6 more times (total of 8 turns). Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 30 minutes. Repeat folding, turning and rising 2 more times for a total of three 30 minute rises. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position, place baking stone on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees F at least 30 minutes before baking.
- Gently transfer dough to lightly floured surface. Lightly dust top of dough with flour and divide in half. Shape each piece of dough into 5″ rounds by gently tucking under edges. Coat two 9″ round cake pans with 2 Tb oil each. Sprinkle each pan with ½ tsp salt. Place round of dough in pan, top side down; slide dough around pan to coat bottom and sides, then flip over. Repeat with second piece of dough. Cover pans with plastic wrap and let rest for 5 minutes.
- Using fingertips, press dough out toward edges of pan. (If dough resists stretching, let it relax for 5 to 10 minutes before trying again.) Using dinner fork, poke surface of dough 25 to 30 times, popping any large bubbles. Sprinkle rosemary evenly over top of dough. Let dough rest until slightly bubbly, 5 to 10 minutes.
- Place pans on baking stone and reduce oven temperature to 450 degrees. Bake until tops are golden brown, 25 to 28 minutes, switching placement of pans halfway through. Transfer pans to wire rack and let cool 5 minutes. Remove loaves from pan and return to wire rack. Brush tops with any oil remaining in pan.
Adapted from “The New Best Recipe” By Cooks Illustrated