Every culture has their bread, French baguettes, Indian na’an, Mexican tortillas…and in Italy it is focaccia. Focaccia is a flat bread that is moist and tender on the inside and the crust has a satisfying crunch from the olive oil.
I first made this focaccia recipe for one of Debbie and Phil’s Gr8 Dinner parties. I have since made it for many different occasions. One of my favorite memories is making this one Saturday afternoon “just because.” We had friends over and were sitting in the backyard chatting. I had started the dough before they arrived, then excused myself at one point to put it in the oven. Were they ever surprised when I brought out a plate stacked with warm squares of Rosemary Sea Salt Focaccia oozing olive oil and goodness!
I like to use my best extra-virgin olive oil for the whole process, from the dough to greasing the baking sheet. The flavor of the oil really shines in focaccia bread.
Don't rush the rising time, make sure the dough is doubled in size before moving to the next step.
Warm up the bowl of your electric mixer by rinsing it under warm running water.
Add 1 1/2 cups warm water to bowl. The water should be between 105º and 115ºF to properly activate the yeast.
Sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the warm water, stir gently; then let sit for 5 to 8 minutes until the yeast is activated. (If the yeast doesn't start foaming, then your bread will not rise; so you should start over with new yeast.)
Then add the 2 teaspoons of regular salt and the flour.
Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until the ingredients are incorporated in a shaggy dough.
Switch to the dough hook and beat on high speed for 2 to 3 minutes.
Turn the dough onto an oiled surface. With oiled hands knead until smooth, about 4 to 6 minutes. Form dough into a ball.
Oil a medium bowl (you can use the mixing bowl, if desired), then place the dough into the bowl and turn it in the oil until coated.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. (Choosing an area that is warm and free of drafts, is best.)
Grease a large baking sheet with 1 Tablespoon oil.
Turn the dough onto the prepared baking sheet.
Pat and stretch the dough into a rectangle shape that is about 1/2" thick.
Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise again until doubled. This may be 45 minutes or it may be 1 1/2 hours, depending on the warmth of the room.
Preheat oven to 425ºF.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
This bread is best served the day it is made. It can be made early in the day and set aside for serving later.