By JONATHON HARTIG for the Flathead Beacon
Focaccia bread is easily one of my favorite breads to make and eat. Focaccia, like Ciabatta, should have large, open pockets or holes within the bread. These gas bubbles are achieved with a long fermentation process. Shoot for a thickness of 1” to 1 1/2”. Using infused olive oils and incorporating fresh herbs within the recipe is absolutely something you should try, as well as serving the focaccia bread alongside olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping. As always, please contact me at email@example.com if I can help you in any way!
- 5 cups bread flour
- 2 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. instant yeast
- 6 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 cups water, room temperature
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup herb oil (if using)
- Mix flour, salt and yeast in large bowl. Add water and 6 Tbsp. olive oil and mix with large spoon until you have a wet, sticky ball. If using a mixer, use paddle attachment and mix on low speed.
- If mixing by hand, continue to mix with spoon until you have a smooth mass. If using a mixer, switch to dough hook and mix until dough clears sides of the bowl, but remains sticky, approximately five to seven minutes.
- Sprinkle a liberal amount of flour on workspace, transfer dough to the flour and dust dough. Shape into a small rectangle and let dough relax for five minutes.
- With floured hands, stretch dough to twice its size, then fold it like you would a letter, maintaining rectangular shape. Spray lightly with oil (Pam or similar), dust lightly with flour and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Rest 30 minutes.
- Stretch and fold dough again, spray with oil, dust with flour and rest another 30 minutes. Repeat this process one more time.
- Let dough ferment for one hour on the counter, covered loosely.
- Line a standard sheet pan with parchment, and using fingers smear ¼ cup olive oil all around pan. Transfer dough to pan. Spoon remaining oil on top of dough and gently spread dough, using your fingers to make dimples all along the top of dough. (Be careful not to tear dough.)
- Loosely cover pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (or up to 3 days.)
- Remove from refrigerator and drizzle additional oil over top and dimple it in – you should now be able to spread the dough to edges of pan. Again, cover pan and continue to proof for about 3 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and place pan in oven. Lower temperature to 450 degrees and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, rotating pan halfway through.
- Remove pan from oven and transfer to cooling rack. Let cool for 20 minutes before slicing or serving. Enjoy!
Jonathon Hartig is the Executive Sous Chef/Instructional Assistant at The Culinary Institute of Montana at Flathead Valley Community College. For more information about the program, visit www.culinaryinstituteofmt.com.