“Just Like Your Italian Grandmother Made It”
by Steve Novotny

I have tried several types of recipes of Foccacia bread and they are mostly the same with small nuances. The one thing I have found in all of them is for the best tasting bread you need to let the dough rise. Don’t take short cuts on this. The whole process is 2 ½ – 3 hours but most of that is letting the dough rise so this is a really easy recipe.

The other “secret” key is supercharging your yeast to work fast You do this by dissolving the yeast in a warm (110 degrees) bowl of water with a small teaspoon of sugar. Give it about 5 -10 minutes and then add it to the mixture.

Lastly… you can keep it very simple or more fun with lots of toppings. Also, as we mention in the recipe below you can put roasted garlic in the dough which is also a nice treat. I can tell you this. Everyone will think you are a super chef when they taste your incredible Foccacia Bread. GRANDE!

The recipe below is an adaption of one done by Stuart Borken from About.com. I have made some small changes that I think fit better.

This is a basic, simple, and therefore wonderful recipe for Focaccia, Italian Flat Bread. I made it up and then remade it, measuring all the ingredients — I put myself in the position of an Italian mother who needed a bread for a meal, went to my cupboard and took down ingredients, went to my garden and got rosemary, and then just threw it together. I always have garlic and yeast on hand.

Here it is:
Serving Size: 8
Preparation Time: 3:00

For the Focaccia
3 1/4 cups flour
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 package dry yeast proofed
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon dry rosemary, 2 teaspoons if fresh (this is preferable)
5 cloves garlic roasted and mashed
1 1/2 cups water, divided & warmed

TOPPINGS for variety
2 tablespoons chopped black olives
1 huge clove garlic, thinly sliced lengthwise
10 strips of roasted red sweet peppers
Slices of marinated artichoke hearts
Kalamata Olives
Mozzarella cheese chunks
Marinated mushrooms
Fresh ground rosemary sprinkles
Basil leaves
Flour (a dusting)
Kosher salt

Roast the garlic in its paper skin in the toaster oven by just resting the cloves on the rack exposed to the hot coils and run them thru a dark toast cycle twice. Allow the cloves to cool slightly and remove the paper and mash the cloves with a fork in a little dish.

Heat 1/2 cup water to 110 degrees, add a pinch of sugar & stir, pour on top of the warmed water the package of yeast and put it in a nest of a kitchen towel so that the heat will stay somewhat longer in the liquid. It should start to proof in 5-10 minutes, then stir it well to dissolve the entire mass of yeast, and then let it proof another 5 minutes. This will wake up the yeast.

Place the flour, sugar, salt, olive oil, rosemary and mashed-up roasted garlic in the bowl of a Kitchen Aid with the dough hook and blend. Pour in the yeast and then with the motor running add the remainder of the warmed water. Allow to knead for couple minutes, testing the texture and adding more flour if too wet and more water if too dry. After kneading, remove and knead a few times by hand and turn into an oiled bowl, turning the dough once to coat it with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise to double in a minimally warmed oven; this will take 1/2-3/4 hours.

Then remove and knead a few times and flatten it out to about 1/2 inch thick and place it on a corn mealed double bottom cookie sheet. Poke deep dents into it and rub with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and sprinkle chopped olives in and around the dents. Now is the time when you add all your extra toppings. As the dough rises it starts to bury all the ingredients into the bread. I have even put chunks of Mozzarella cheese in mine as well as marinated mushrooms, Kalamata olives… you name it.

Let it rise a second time in a warm oven which will take about 1/2 – 3/4 hours. Then bake the focaccia on the cookie sheet in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes, remove the bread from the cookie sheet, place it onto the oven rack directly, and let it finish off for 10 minutes or until the bottom taps hollow.

If the top is not golden or browned the way you like, then finish the top off with the broiler, putting a nice brown crust on it.

Remove and place bread on rack to cool slightly and set. Then tear and eat with infused olive oil or butter.

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