herb focaccia

January 13, 2010 |  Category:   recipes

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I have been making focaccia almost as long as I have lived in New York. My first job was at an Italian restaurant (which has since been closed, torn down and made into a parking garage) by Lincoln Center. I knew next to nothing about the restaurant business and I probably even had some delusions about making it somehow in the music business, so I spent my first few weeks there just picking herbs and slicing shoestring potatoes. Eventually they trusted me with some real work – salad dressings, veal meatballs, etc… When an opening appeared in their pastry department I quickly took it and I learned to make ice creams and sorbets, biscotti, pannacotta, and focaccia. Their pastry chef then recommended me for a pastry position at Zoë and I also made focaccia there every day for several years. It has always been my first choice for an easy and tasty bread recipe, and I’m actually surprised that I haven’t made it at home more often.

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Do not be intimidated by this recipe. It is broken into several parts, the first is to make what is called a “sponge”, which rises for a bit by itself. More flour and water are then added to that to make the dough, which rises again. It is then placed in the baking pan for one more rising before it is baked. So even though there are three separate risings it can still be completed in about three hours. The dough can be made a day ahead and kept in the refrigerator, just check on it once in a while so it doesn’t rise too much.

Focaccia (makes one 18″x13″ pan)

1-1/2 cups warm water
2-1/2 Tablespoons sugar
1 package active dry yeast
2 cups all-purpose flour

8 cups all-purpose flour
1-3/4 cups water
2-1/2 Tablespoons fine sea salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped mixed herbs

Olive oil for brushing
Coarse sea salt

Mix the warm water, sugar and yeast in the bowl of a electric mixer. Stir until the yeast is dissolved, then completely stir in the flour. Let it rest in a warm place for at least 30 minutes, until it starts to rise noticeably. Add the remaining flour and water, plus the salt, 1/4 cup olive oil, and the herbs. Mix on low speed with the dough hook attachment in your electric mixer until a dough is formed. Remove the dough from the the bowl and knead it several times by hand. Put the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1-1/2 or 2 hours.

Punch down the dough, then transfer it to a lightly oiled 18″x13″ baking pan. Stretch and push the dough with your fingers until it covers the pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Let the dough rise for another 20 minutes or so in the pan until it rises a little bit. Brush the top with plenty of olive oil, and sprinkle with some coarse sea salt. Bake in the oven on the center rack until golden brown on top, maybe about 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove the focaccia from the pan to cool until you are ready to slice and serve it. I had leftover caramelized onions which I placed on top before baking – definitely a nice addition, but not necessary. We’ve eaten it with salsify puree soup this week as well as the bread for barbeque pulled pork sandwiches.

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  • modernemotive January 13, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Oooooh, I love making bread from scratch. Wasn’t successful with my last attempt at Focaccia. Will have to give this a try. Great photos! They are making my hungry!

  • Alessandra January 13, 2010 at 10:48 am

    Great focaccia!
    You have an Italian fan from now on 🙂
    If you would like more Italian recipes (100% tested and traditional) please do ask me 🙂

    Alessandra

  • Rachel Dangerfield January 13, 2010 at 11:01 am

    Oh yum. I think I know what’s for dinner tonight!

  • julie y. January 13, 2010 at 11:03 am

    yum! that looks splendid. there is nothing like a tasty focaccia bread, and it does not take A LOT of ingredients. thanks for sharing.

    alessandra-are you italian?? i’d love some authentic italian recipes. i lived in italy for a few months last year, and miss the tasty & fresh food.

  • Ruth January 13, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    This looks delicious! Can’t wait to try it 🙂

  • leslie January 13, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Oh wow. Can’t wait to try this at home. It looks absolutely delicious! Thanks for sharing this with us!

  • Lani January 13, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Looks great, and it looks do-able to someone like me who has never made a great loaf of bread. Will try this weekend. Thanks!

  • Nina January 13, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    That looks delish but it does look intimidating. I tend to shy away from making any type of bread as it does look so complicated. Thanks for this though! Your meals at home always look so gourmet!

  • Kristen January 13, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Oh my gosh, that focaccia looks amazing. Yum. If I ever get a dough hook I will have to try this recipe. Thanks for posting!

  • Celestefrittata January 13, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    Hi Jenna, well done 🙂
    I was born in Genova and in my city focaccia is the typical food. People eats focaccia all the time: as a breakfast and for lunch, even walking in the streets… I love focaccia but never tried making it myself. Thanks for sharing you recipe!

  • Bridgett || Perideau Designs January 13, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    This looks awesome! And I’m thrilled that Kendall can have it, with her allergies and all. Thanks for sharing and your photos (and tweaks to the blog) look great. 🙂

  • Lois January 13, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Oooh, thanks for sharing this recipe, Mark! I can’t wait to try. The photos are totally inspiring me.

  • mixette January 13, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    Thank you Mark! I happen to have some leftover caramelized onions in the fridge right now so this’ll be tomorrow’s rainy day project.

  • Marie Hansen January 14, 2010 at 1:42 am

    Sure sounds good, Mark. One of the things about living alone is that to make this, you have to invite the neighbors in to eat it. Sure sounds good, though. Thanks for the recipe.
    Aloham, Marie 🙂

  • Alessandra January 14, 2010 at 7:05 am

    @ Yulie 🙂 Yes I am Italian and live in Milano, but my parents are from Napoli and Chieti (Abruzzo), so I got influences from different parts of Italy regarding food!
    I would be really glad to share my recipes, if you have some questions you can send me an email…I can also try to take photographs while cooking myself 🙂
    There are many websites and forums with real italian recipes, but I understand that it might be difficult for somebody who doesn’t know the language!
    Please send me an email and I’ll do my best to help you 🙂

    Alessandra

  • Michaela Dawn January 16, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    I have a habit of coming here before dinner, and its helped my appetite heaps:)

    Such a beautiful post today, and always!
    M

  • Susan January 20, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Hi, just a quick question on the amount of flour in your focaccia? Seems like so much. I usually only use half that amount. It’s not too much with 8 cups?
    Thanks

  • charisma January 28, 2010 at 4:14 am

    I Love herb focaccia breads!:D Your Focaccia looks so delicious! I’m not good in making breads or any pastries but I’m planning on getting myself an oven this coming month so i’ll definitely try your recipe Mark!:) Thanks for sharing! have a good one you guys:)

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