Welcome to our August Bakealong Challenge. Each month, we announce a new recipe for you to try, along with helpful tips and step-by-step instructions here on our blog. We invite you to bake this month’s recipe, Golden Focaccia, then share a photo of your creation, tagging it #bakealong. We recently wrapped up the first year of our Bakealong challenge, and decided to kick off our second year of Bakealong with this classic Italian country recipe. It is a casual bread, enjoyed warm from the oven with family and friends, a dish made for sharing.

Maybe you’ve tasted the American version of this flatbread, typically thick and tender with a soft crust but we’d like you to learn about true focaccia, the kind made in Italian towns from Genoa to Catania. Our Golden Focaccia Bakealong will show you how to create the real thing: Italian focaccia, usually a bit thinner than American-style, crusty and chewy and topped with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a scattering of herbs. Fancy versions of focaccia will have chopped olives or onions, plus maybe a few curls of shaved Parmesan. But one trait common to all native Italian focaccia is this: there’s no iconic recipe, and it’s never made exactly the same way twice.

GOLDEN FOCACCIA

Ingredients:

For the Overnight Starter

1/2 cup cool water

1/16 teaspoon instant yeast

1 cup all purpose flour

For the Focaccia Dough

2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast

1/2 cup lukewarm water

2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

Method:

  • Make the overnight starter by mixing water and 1/16 teaspoon instant yeast, then slowly add the flour.
  • Stir until the flour is incorporated. The starter will be paste-like; it won’t form a ball. Cover and let rest.

  • Keep at room temperature for about 14 hours and starter will be bubbly and be ready by next morning.
  • Combine the starter with the remaining dough ingredients, and knead to make a smooth, elastic dough.

  • Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise for 1 hour. Dough will become noticeably puffy.
  • A large baking sheet (e.g., an 18″ x 13″ half-sheet pan) will comfortably hold the entire batch of dough.

  • For a smaller focaccia, pat the dough into four 6″ to 8″ rounds, either freeform or in round cake pans.
  • Use non-stick vegetable oil spray to lightly grease the pan. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil on top of it.

  • Gently pull and shape dough into a rough rectangle and pat it into the pan but not all the way to edges.
  • Leave an inch or so free around the perimeter. Cover pan, and allow the dough to rise for 30 minutes.

  • Use fingers to make irregularly spaced dimples, pressing down firmly to reach the bottom of the pan.
  • Cover dough, and let rise until it is noticeably puffy, about 1 hour. The dough should have expanded.

  • Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F. Set baking stone on lower-middle rack.
  • Spritz heavily with warm water. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, enough to collect in the dimples.

  • Sprinkle with rosemary, any herb of your choice, black pepper, and some flaked sea salt or kosher salt.
  • Place the pan of focaccia onto the baking stone. Bake until light golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.

KAF August 2017 Bakealong Challenge: Golden Focaccia