This recipe uses specific weight measurements in grams to ensure an even proportion of the ingredients. If you don’t have a dry scale, I highly recommend purchasing even a cheap one, but you can also look up the approximate volume equivalents online. Just remember, there’s a lot of variability in mass between even one cup of all-purpose flour and one cup of bread flour.
This recipe also includes a bulk fermentation, which helps kickstart aeration, which can last between one and two hours, before it goes into the fridge for at least 8 hours, which slows down the fermentation and allows more flavor to develop. You can leave the dough in the fridge, covered loosely in plastic, for up to 24 hours, so consider what time you’d like to bake it, and plan accordingly. Since half of the toppings are added once the focaccia is relatively cool, you can bake a loaf a few hours or a day in advance, wrap it tightly in plastic and store it in the fridge.
To serve, warm gently in a low oven to take the chill off before adding the final toppings.
- In a small bowl, combine 100 grams of the water with the yeast. Stir to dissolve and let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, remaining water, and 30 grams of olive oil. Add the yeast mixture, and mix thoroughly with your hands until all the visible flour is incorporated and a shaggy dough forms, about 3 minutes.
- Cover the dough loosely in plastic wrap and set aside to autolyse for 30 minutes. This will help the flour to become fully hydrated, activating enzymes that will help the yeast to access its nutrients.
- Sprinkle the salt over the dough and mix with your hands until fully incorporated. The dough should feel smooth and supple and a little taught.
- Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to sit at room temperature for about 1-2 hours to ferment. It should appear bubbly and nearly doubled in size. It's okay if it hasn't fully doubled by this point; it will continue to ferment in the fridge.
- Chill the covered dough for at least 8 hours, and up to 24. This lengthy fermentation will develop flavor and structure.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and allow the dough to warm slightly at room temperature, about 30 minutes.
- Apply 15g of olive oil to a 13x18" rimmed baking sheet and use a spatula to scrape the dough from the bowl onto the oiled sheet. Using oiled hands, gently stretch dough, pushing it into the corners of the pan. If it tenses up, let it rest for 5-10 minutes. This will allow the gluten to relax, making it easier to stretch.
- Using hands or a pastry brush, gently rub 15g of olive oil over the top of the dough. Cover gently in plastic wrap and allow to proof in a warm place for 1-2 hours, or until it's puffy and bubbly, and has grown to fill the tray. 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450°F.
- When the oven is preheated and the dough is puffy, use your fingers to press deep dimples across the entirety of the dough. Bubbles should rise to the surface, and the dough should spring back only slightly, leaving the dimples intact.
- Apply any toppings and bake until the focaccia is crisp and golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. If not using additional toppings, drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
- Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly, and, if serving immediately, apply any remaining toppings. Alternatively, wrap the cooled focaccia in plastic and refrigerate up to 24 hours before serving. To serve, warm gently in a low oven, and apply any remaining toppings immediately before serving.
Alex Testere is a writer, editor, and illustrator based in Brooklyn. He spends most of his time cooking and thinking about his houseplants.