If you are looking for the BEST small batch Focaccia Bread, stop looking because you are staring at it right now. This bread has been infused with herbs and spices, the edge and top are crunchy, but the bread itself is soft and fluffy.
Focaccia Bread is one of my favorite bread to make at home, that on top of my dinner rolls. It have a different texture as default dinner roll or load bread, a texture a find wonderful for dipping in Hummus, Moutabel or just simply olive oil and vinaigrette. The crunchy crusty shell of the bread makes is suitable for dipping because it doesn’t get soggy and mushy easily. While the exterior is crusty, the inside of this bread is quite the opposite. It is soft and fluffy and full of those wonderful pockets almost like a bursted bubbles. Seeing those pockets makes me happy because it tells me that I did it right.
What is Focaccia Bread?
Focaccia is a flat oven-baked Italian bread product almost like a pizza dough in texture. Focaccia can be used as a side to many meals like for soup or salad, as sandwich bread or to serve just on its own with vinaigrette for dipping
Can I Make Focaccia Bread Without Yeast?
Yes, but that would be more like a flatbread than a Foccacia Bread. Yeast is responsible for making the bread fluffy, without the yeast the bread will not rise.
Liquid in Making Foccacia Bread
Foccacia Bread unlike other bread (like dinner rolls or loaf bread) use more liquid, that is olive oil and water. This is of those few cases in bread making that you should not worry if your dough ended up to be slightly more wet and sticky that the regular dough you make. When making foccacia bread, a wet dough is better than a dry dough. Dry dough produces dense and very bread, which it not Foccacia is all about. Since the amount of liquid depends on many things like how dry the flour you are using, the humidity in your area, the precision of the amount of oil and water could sometimes vary, and not always 100% exact. Adjust as needed. Aim for a dough that is soft, wet and it sticks to your hands when you try to tough it.
Making Focaccia Bread Variation
You can make the Foccacia Bread plain, with the amount of salt and oil it will already have a strong flavor even without the additional toppings. But if you like to make it a little bit more than the usual, you can add olives, garlic, mushroom, sun-dried tomato, jalapeno, cheese, fresh herbs, dried fruits for a sweet and salty version
Serving Focaccia Bread
You can serve this bread several ways. You can serve it with soups and salads, as appetizer with some Hummus or vinaigrette dipping sauce, you can use this as sandwich bread, or for making panini.
Creative Ways to Use Leftover Focaccia Bread
You will be amazed with what you can do with a left over Focaccia Bread Here are few suggestions:
- Make them into croutons. I have a video recipe HERE on how to Make Croutons, watch it now.
- Make it into a bread crumbs. Bake or toast the focaccia until dry then process it until fine in texture. If the focaccia has vegetables or other toppings on it, the toppings may not be good for the breadcrumbs. Use plain focaccia bread to make homemade bread crumbs
- Make it into a savory pudding. Simply break the focaccia into small pieces and pour a mixture or milk, egg, cheese and seasonings. Bake until top is golden brown.
Making Focaccia Bread
Making Focaccia Bread is slightly different from regular dinner rolls. Although both bread as considered as yeast bread, some of the process are unique to Focaccia Bread.
- Oil and Herbs Mixture: another thing that is unique to Focaccia Bread is the amount of Oil it uses. It use a lot more than a regular bread uses. For this recipe, I made a garlic and herbs infused oil to give the bread a nice flavor. Heating the oil with the spices brings out and extracts the flavor of the slices better. This is the first step in making the Focaccia Bread, it will also give the infused oil time to cool down before mixing it with the flour.
- The Flour: Although you can use All-Purpose Flour in making this bread, bread flour will give a better bread texture because of the higher protein content which is responsible for developing the gluten.
- The Oven Temperature: The key to a nice crunchy edges and top is baking the bread in high temperature. Ideally, 475F if your oven allows it without making your smoke detector shouting like crazy. The least I tried using is 375F for 30 -35 minutes, or 400F for 20 minutes
- It all start by preparing the yeast. Instead of just activating the yeast on its own, we are going to make a starter dough. This is just a small potion of the dough with yeast added into it. You will let the dough sit for about 10 minutes just enough time to activate the yeast. Once that is done, you can now add the rest of the flour to the starter dough mixture.
Expect a Wet Sticky Dough
Just a heads-up, Focaccia dough is quite wet and sticky compared to regular dinner rolls or sandwich bread. Do not be alarmed as this wet sticky dough is what will help produce a light airy bread. Do not attempt to add more flour to get it to a non-sticky consistency.
Tips in Making Focaccia Bread:
- Check Expiry Date of Yeast: It is very important that your yeast is not expired, otherwise the dough will not rise properly and you will end up with a flat dense bread. There is no compromise here, if your yeast failed to activate and foam up, do not continue.
- Use Warm Water to Activate the Yeast: I use a baking thermometer to be sure that the water is 110F. Too hot and it will kill the yeast, too cold and it will not activate even if your yeast is not expired. If you do not have a thermometer, feel the water with your finger, you should feel it warm and not feel uncomfortable having your finger dipped at least 30 seconds.
- Use Bread Flour: Bread flour produces a chewy bread texture because of its high protein content, as compared to regular all-purpose flour. Although all-purpose flour will work the texture will not be the same. Foccacia made with all-purpose flour have a tender soft crumb, more than chewy.
- Aim for a Wet, Sticky Dough: A dense and dry dough produces heavy and dense Foccacia Bread, so do not be afraid to add a little bit more (1 tablespoon) if you notice that your dough is dry. If your dough is slightly more sticky than what you see in the video, that should still be ok as long as it doesn’t drip like a liquid batter. Amount of liquid in any bread making is not always 100% precise as it affects factors like texture of your flour, humidity in your area, etc.
- Do not use big pan for small recipe like this: The bigger the pan, the thinner the bread will be. Also bigger pan tends to make us push the dough more to spread it thus knocking the air inside the dough.
- Be Patient: Both rest period of the dough is very important. Make sure that the dough has double or more than double its size and nicely puff-up before you bake it. Mine takes 30 – 45 minutes, if you need more time then add few more minutes until it is puff-up.
- Let the dough do its second rise in the pan it will be baked in – This is to avoid transferring it and deflating the bread. The less you touch and move it after the second rise, the better for the bread. This will give you the pockets and holes inside the bread.
- Oil and salt the bottom of the pan: This adds more flavor as the bread absorbs the infused oil, plus it helps produce a crunchy bread.
- Bake it Hot Oven: Bake in minimum 375F or go higher even at 400F (adjust the baking time), hot oven will produce a nice crunchy bread crust and the heat will push the bread to rise producing a fluffy thick bread.
- 3/4 cup warm Water (110F)
- 1 1/4 tsp Active Dry Yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon White Sugar
- 1 1/4 cup Bread Flour
- 3/4 teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin Olive Oil (divided: 3 tablespoon for the flour mixture and 1 tbsp for brushing the top)
- 1 Cloves Garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
- 1/4 tsp fresh ground Black Pepper
- Prepare the Infused Herb Olive Oil: In a cold medium skillet, combine olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, minced garlic and Italian seasoning. Place the pan over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 to 10 minutes or until aromatic, but before the garlic browns. Set aside and let cool completely.
- Activate the Yeast: In a large bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and sugar. Stir a few times then let sit for 10 minutes.
- Infused Oil + Flour: Add 1 cup of the flour and 3 tablespoon of the infused garlic-olive oil mixture to the yeast mixture. Stir 3 to 4 times until the flour has moistened. At this stage, expect a wet, soggy and sticky mixture. Let sit for another 5 minutes.
- Remaining Flour: Add in the remaining 1/4 cup of flour and 1/2 tsp salt. Knead for about 10 -15 minutes. Expect a sticky wet dough. If it is too wet, add about 1-2 tablespoon of flour, but nothing much.
- Rest Period: Transfer to a large oiled bowl, cover with a warm, damp towel and let rise for 1 hour. (It’s best to let the dough rise in a warmer area of your kitchen).
- To help the dough rise well, pre-heat the oven to 110F then once it reached 110F, turn OFF the oven. DO NOT forget to turn off the oven, you only want the oven to warm up for the dough to rise, you do not want to dough to be baked. Some oven has a proofing setting, mine doesn’t, so this is my trick.
- Transfer in Pan: Brush pan with infused olive oil. Sprinkle some coarse salt on the pan. Transfer dough into the baking sheet or pan, no need to knead the dough. Push the dough around to cover the pan. Drizzle infused olive oil on top. Cover and let rest for another 45 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 375F at the last 15 minutes of proofing. If you are using the oven to proof the bread, do no forget to remove it before pre-heating the oven
- Baking Pan: Rectangle 7.5 x 10 (or something close to this size)
- Baking Pan: Cast Iron Pan 6-inch
- Topping: Using your fingers, poke holes on top. Add any topping of your choice, the likes of kalamata olive, sun-dried tomato, fresh chopped Rosemary, grated cheese or leave it plain.
- Bake in a pre-heated 400F for 26 – 28 minutes or until top turns brown and the bread lift off easily from the pan.
How to Store Focaccia Bread
Homemade bread usually are best the day they are made. Since they do not have any preservatives, the quality will start to deteriorate as the days go by. However, leftover sometimes cannot be avoided so in this case, wrap it up in a bread bag or sealed zip-top bag. The high olive oil content in the dough delay the bread going stale as quickly as other types of bread. I like to wrap this focaccia bread in foil then have it stored in ziplock bag, then keep it in the freezer for future serving. When ready to serve, simply re-heat it in the oven at 300F for 10 – 15 minutes or until warm.
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