I’ve been on a Focaccia kick, so I think it’s high time I put it on the blog. This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook, and I think it’s a great bread to make for the novice bread baker. More like a batter than a dough, this bread can be kneaded in your KitchenAid or by hand with a spoon or sturdy spatula. There’s also no shaping – just dump in into the prepared pan and spread it out with your fingertips. Cut it into breadsticks, split horizontally for sandwiches, sprinkle with herbs or cheese, or divide it between two pans for a thinner dough and make it into a pizza crust.
2 1/4 lbs (about 7 cups) bread flour
3 1/2 cups warm water
1 t. active dry yeast
2 T. coarse salt
1/2 c. olive oil
sea salt or kosher salt for sprinkling
In large bowl (or if you have a KitchenAid, in that bowl) stir together the flour, water, and yeast. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm mplace until the mixture is tripled in bulk and full of spongelike bubbles, about 2 hours.
Add the salt. Attached the bowl to a mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix on low speed for 3 to 5 minutes. If you don't have a mixer, just stir with a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon the best you can. The dough should be wet, slack, and very sticky.
At this point, Martha instructs to scrape the dough on a large, well-floured work surface and "fold" the dough by bringing the edges toward the center, working your way around the dough. Then place the dough, seam side down, in a well floured bowl to rise. However, if you're feeling particularly lazy, keep the dough in the original mixing bowl and just oil your hands and bring up the sides of the dough and fold toward the center and then flip it over and cover the bowl.
Let the dough rise until double, about 1 hour, and then repeat the folding process. Cover and let dough rise again until double, about 1 hour.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and pour about 1/3 - 1/2 c. olive oil into a 17x12-inch baking sheet, coating the bottom completely. (Note: even with all of this olive oil, I still had problems with the bread sticking to the pan during baking. The last two times I made this I first placed a sheet of parchment in the pan and then added the oil on top of the parchment, and this solved my sticking problem.)
Dump the dough in the prepared pan and turn to coat with oil (add more oil if necessary). Using your fingertips, press out the dough to the sides of the pan. If the dough springs back, cover with plastic wrap and wait 10 minutes for the dough to relax and try again. Drizzle any remaining oil over the dough and sprinkle liberally with sea or kosher salt.
Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until focaccia is evenly browned on top and bottom, 25-30 minutes. Immediatelyi slide the focaccia onto a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.