Focaccia is an olive oil-rich Italian bread, crisp on top and bottom but fluffy inside with abundant air holes of all sizes. The brining which is recommended by many chefs gives it a moist mouth feel. Yes, you'll need to use yeast and let it rise overnight, but it's as easy a recipe as they come. Perfect for summer picnics served cold, or reheat.
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
5 cups all purpose flour
5 tsp Kosher salt + 1 tsp for finish
2 to 3 tsp honey (or 2 tsp sugar)
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus 2 to 3 tbsp)
2-1/2 cups warm water for dough mix (plus 1/4 to 1/3 cup extra for brine)
Mix together 2-1/2 cups water, honey and yeast in a bowl. If using sugar add to dry mix. Whisk flour and 1 tsp Kosher salt in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture to flour and salt. Mix with a wooden spoon or spatula. Once completely mixed, coat in olive oil, the cover with plastic wrap and leave in fridge until doubled in size (overnight).
Remove from fridge. Grease a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. With the dough in the bowl, fold it gently in half. Turn the bowl, a quarter turn, then fold in half again. Repeat until you've folded the dough 4 times. Form into ball. Transfer to sheet, drizzling with 2 tbsp oil. Set aside in a warm place to rest 1-1/2 hours to 4 hours until it is doubled in size. The dough should spring back slowly when poked with your finger.
Gently stretch and spread dough to sides and corners. To prevent shrinkage let stand for a few minutes and then continue stretching dough to the edges of the pan. To create focaccia's famous dimples, press the tips of your fingers into the dough. Set aside.
While the next step is optional, chefs applaud it. Whisk together warm water with 1 tsp Kosher salt. Pour the mixture over the dough, filling dimpled areas, too. Then let the dough rise for another hour.
While waiting preheat oven to 450 degrees. Before placing in the oven sprinkle 1/2 tsp salt on the dough. Place the focaccia on a middle rack and bake for 30 minutes or until the bottom is crisp. Then move to top rack for 5 minutes. This is necessary since the brine prevents a golden top crust from forming while baking on the middle rack.
Remove from oven then drizzle at least 3 to 4 tbsp olive oil across entire surface of focaccia. Let sit until cooled then transfer to wire rack. If you're using the focaccia later, simple wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in fridge. You can reheat if you wish before serving.
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