Homemade focaccia is easy and so rewarding with this one bowl sheet pan recipe. With a slightly crispy crust and fluffy interior, this Italian Focaccia Recipe is for making a sandwich or serving alongside soup or salad.
If making homemade bread feels a little out of your wheelhouse, toss around the idea of making homemade focaccia. This simple Italian focaccia recipe will fill your home with the smell of baking bread but —you'll barely have broken a sweat.
Made in one bowl and one sheet pan, the only other things you need are:
- a little time
- basic baking ingredients like flour and salt
- olive oil
How much olive oil?!
To make good focaccia bread, you have to accept that you are going to use what feels like a boatload of olive oil.
As my kids like to say, "it is what it is."
Olive oil contributes to:
- the flavor of the dough
- the crispness of the crust
- making the perfect foundation for the flaky salt to cling to on top
This isn't a time to use your cheapest EVOO. Use the good stuff with some flavor. (Btw - this California olive oil is one of my top picks.
In addition to olive oil, there are few techniques and ingredients that contribute to a fluffy focaccia.
Simple focaccia bread techniques
Layering of Ingredients. As with any good homemade bread dough, order matters. Actually the most important rule to remember is:
Proofing. I mentioned that focaccia needs time and that comes in the rising or hanging out stage known as proofing. You'll proof the focaccia dough TWICE —once in the bowl and once in the sheet pan. Proofing is when all the resting and relaxing leads to rising which contributes to an light, airy texture.
Sugar. To do its thing, yeast needs to be fed and it loooves sugar.
Kneading. Whether in your mixer with a dough hook or by hand, focaccia dough needs to be kneaded (and don't we all?) to create the texture you crave.
Finally, there's one more critical step for this Italian focaccia bread and that comes from Samin Nosrat, acclaimed author and host of Netflix's blockbuster Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. Nosrat went straight to Liguria, Italy, the capital and home of all things focaccia, to learn some unique techniques.
The key to great tasting focaccia bread
Samin Nosrat's focaccia recipe incorporates the Ligurian technique of brining the focaccia dough during the second proof. The brine flavors the dough with just the right amount of salt while adding the perfect amount of moisture to the finished focaccia.
Yep, you're going to pour a mixture of water and salt all over your bread dough in the pan.
And you're going to be out of your mind once you taste it.
Start by stirring 105° water and yeast in a mixing bowl. Add some sugar and let it bubble for a couple of minutes.
Side note: You can use your stand mixer. I've made it by hand or with a mixer and I will say I prefer doing it by hand. There's something very soulful about mixing dough by hand and this dough is so easy to work with.
Layer on the flour, olive oil and finally the salt. And then stir the whole thing together with a wooden spoon. The dough will be quite shaggy (1)
Knead together for about 5 minutes on a floured surface using about ¼ cup of flour. Don't over flour the dough (2)
Add the dough back to an oil wiped bowl (3) and let it rise for three hours until doubled in size (4). See the note in the recipe for a shorter rise time.
The second proof
Now is the fun part. Pour about ½ cup of olive oil (yes - ½ cup!) into the bottom of a large sheet pan. Add your dough to the pan, gently stretching it to the edges. This might take a few minutes.
Add the famous focaccia dimples by using your fingers and pressing into the dough all the way through to the pan, creating holes in the dough. Do this all over the dough and don't worry about seeing the pan!
The focaccia brine
Pour the salt brine over the dough filling the dimple holes with the salty blessing. And now place it back into a cold oven or warm spot and let it hang out for the second proof before baking until crispy and perfect.
Focaccia bread is best made the day of or the day before you plan to serve it. Follow the reheating and storing instructions in the recipe below.
While the dough rises, contemplate what you want to put on top. Some super yummy focaccia bread toppings are:
- cherry tomatoes
- sun dried tomatoes
- cured Italian olives
- rosemary and garlic salt
- figs, rosemary and prosciuitto
- a mixture of cheeses
For a few. Divide the recipe in half and use for sandwiches, to accessorize your favorite soup or salad recipes and more. Or make a pan and wrap pieces in parchment, tie with some cute kitchen twine and share with a neighbor who might be staying home.
For a crew. One pan oughta do it. Cut in smaller squares to serve for a larger gathering.
Italian Focaccia Bread
- 1 ¾ cup warm water, 105°
- 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 4 ⅓ cup all-purpose flour, plus ¼ cup or so for kneading
- ⅓ cup olive oil, plus ½ cup for the pan
- 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
- flaked sea salt
- sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
- chopped fresh rosemary
- garlic salt
- fresh figs and prosciutto
- cured Italian olive
For the brine
- ⅓ cup water
- 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
- In a large mixing bowl, add the warm water and sprinkle over the yeast. Stir lightly. Add the sugar and let side until bubbly for about five minutes.
- Layer the flour, olive oil and salt in that order. [see note below]
- Mix by hand with a wooden spoon or by machine (with a paddle attachment) until all the flour is mixed together. The dough will come away from the sides of the bowl in the mixer.
- Turn the dough out to a floured surface. The dough will be very wet which is fine. Knead it together for about 4-5 minutes until the dough is fairly smooth. Flour the dough as needed with the extra ¼ cup of flour.
- Pour the dough into a mixing bowl wiped with a little drizzle of olive oil turning over to coat the underside.
- Cover with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel and place into an unheated oven or warm place to rise for up to 3 hours until doubled in size. [see note below]
- Preheat the oven to 425°.
- Pour ½ cup of olive oil into a large sheet pan that measures approximately 12" x 17". Tilt the pan to evenly distribute the oil.
- Mix the water and salt together in a small bowl and set aside.
- After the first proofing, pour the dough into the oil-lined pan and using your fingers spread out to the sides of the pan. This might take a little effort. If it keeps springing back, let it rest for a bit and get comfy. It'll eventually go where it's supposed to with your encouragement!
- Angle your fingers like you're typing on keyboard into the dough making small holes through to the pan. Don't worry - this will create the classic focaccia dimples and as the bread proofs the second time.
- Pour the salt water brine over the dough filling the holes. Let the dough sit for 45 minutes with the brine on it.
- Bake in a preheated 425° oven for 25-30 minutes until crispy and fluffy.
- Cool for a few minutes before slicing. Sprinkle with additional flaky salt if desired. Serve at room temperature.