When I was in baking school I was pretty unfamiliar with 75% of breads that I was churning out in class, day after day. One of those breads was focaccia. I soon learned that focaccia is a large flat loaf that has a crisp top and chewy texture. It’s full of garlic, herbs, and smothered in olive oil, and that was enough for me to fall completely in love. I used to make it pretty often, but in the past few years I’ve become busier, and time seemed to be passing by in an instant, making me unable to spend a lot of time proofing, kneading, and baking dough. Since the lockdown is still in effect here in Toronto, I’ve been spending a lot more hours of my day just leisurely baking, and since bread can take a lot of time out of your day, I’ve been making way more bread than usual.
Focaccia is super simple, and tastes amazing. I use a preferment at the start of baking because it adds a little more flavour and the acidity in a preferment helps to add to the shelf life of bread. However, since using a preferment does require planning ahead, you can omit the preferment completely and make the dough from scratch with the whole total amount of ingredients from the preferment and the final dough. For example, you would use 367g (3 cups) of flour instead of dividing it up for a preferment and a final dough.
I’ve definitely skipped out on using a preferment when deciding to bake on a whim, and knowing that it would not last more than one day out of the oven (I know what my family likes to eat). The thing about bread is that while it can be super technical, it can also be very spontaneous. When it comes to bread, there’s a lot of “you’ll just know” being thrown around. Visual cues, textural feels — the more you bake bread the more you “just know”. While I admit that bread is not my specialty, it’s definitely a fun thing to make every now and then, regardless of how much baking experience you have.
The last time I made focaccia, I actually made a rye focaccia instead of an all-white flour focaccia. In order to do this, you can replace 50% of the flour with rye (if not using a preferment), and if you plan on making a preferment, you can make it with rye flour, and sub 110g of white flour in the final dough with rye to get that 50% rye %50 white flour mix. Combining rye and white flour gives you the best gluten and rise as opposed to using more rye than white flour since rye contains less proteins. You can use bread flour instead of all-purpose, but I always tend to have all-purpose on hand and use this instead of running to the store to grab bread flour. The result is always fine.
If you’d like to get technical and create a more consistent dough, aim to have your dough come to about 38C/100F after mixing. I explain how to get this desired dough temperature in the video tutorial below!
Feel free to check out the recipe and video tutorial below!
This makes enough for one 9×13″ pan
73g (2/3 cup) all purpose flour
41g (3 tbsp) warm water
a pinch of instant yeast
294g (2-1/3) cup all purpose flour
216g (3/4 cup + 2 tbsp) warm water
2g (2/3 tsp) instant yeast
8g (2 tsp) salt
8g (2 tsp) sugar
8g (2 tsp) olive oil
For the toppings
60g (1/3 cup) olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 leaves of sage, thinly sliced
7-10 sprigs of thyme
- To make the preferment, mix together the flour, water, and yeast in a small bowl. Knead until well combined, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight.
- The next day, take the preferment an hour before creating the dough. In a stand mixer with a hook attachment, add the flour, salt, sugar, yeast, preferment and the warm water.
- Mix on low speed for 5 min, then second speed for 10-12 min. During this time you can prepare your proofing bowl with the olive oil, the herbs, and garlic.
- Once the dough has come together and the sides of the bowl are clean, add the olive oil and mix on low speed for another 2-3 min or until it is fully combined into the dough.
- Take the dough out of the mixer, rounding it up into a smooth ball, and drop into the olive oil and herb mixture.
- Leave to proof for 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until doubled in size.
- Place onto a tray lined with parchment paper, and spread out to all corners of the pan. Pressing down to create dimples and to spread the dough.
- Proof in a turned off oven with a pan of hot water to create a warm and steamy environment for about 45-60 min or until doubled in volume.
- Remove the pans from the oven and preheat to 390F or 200C, and bake the focaccia for 18-20 min or until fully golden on top.
- Slice into rectangles with a bread knife or serrated knife and enjoy!