December 16, 2019
Do you like focaccia? If so, plan on making this soon. You do need to plan ahead, as the dough needs to rest in the fridge for at least 8 hours or overnight. That is about as complicated as it gets. I found this recipe on Bon Appetit so credit goes there. My only small adjustment is to clarify that this is a WET dough. I thought I may have done something wrong because it seemed so wet but the recipe doesn't prepare you for this or explain it for you. Follow the recipe exactly, and just be aware that your dough will be a bit wet and goopy, maybe a little bit tricky to handle but nothing too crazy I promise! I shredded one red onion on my mandolin and sprinkled it on top before baking. You could leave it plain, add some rosemary, or even some thinly sliced potato. This is a blank canvas.
6 1/4 cups bread flour (850 grams)
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (from one, 1/4-ounce packet)
pinch of sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing and drizzling
1 medium red onion
flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
Combine the flour and 2 1/2 cups room temperature water in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low speed until a shaggy dough forms. Make sure to scrape down the sides and bottom a few times. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap while you put your attention on the yeast mixture.
Yeast likes to eat sugar, so do I. So add your yeast and sugar into a bowl with 1/2 cup of warm water. Not too hot, not too cold. Just right. Mix it with a fork or whisk and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Your yeast will be happy in the warm water, munching on some sugar. You should start to see some foaming/bubbles as the yeast becomes active. Add this liquid to the bowl with your shaggy dough and mix on low speed. Be careful that the liquid doesn't splash over the sides. Add your salt now. You don't want to add it earlier because the salt will actually inhibit the yeast to do its thing. Mix for about 5 minutes until it looks like a thick pancake batter.
Pour a few tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil into a large bowl and swish it around the bottom and edges. Add your dough to the bowl, cover and let it sit in a warm'ish place for 2-3 hours until doubled in size. Check it at 2 hours and let it sit longer if needed.
Drizzle some more extra-virgin olive oil on an 18 x 13-inch sheet pan, make sure to get the oil all over the bottom and sides. Using oiled hands, fold the dough over itself a few times in the bowl, and then move it to the sheet pan. Lift up the dough and fold it in half, turn the pan 90 degrees and fold it in half again. Let it rest for about 10 minutes so the gluten that has developed in the dough can relax a bit, which will make it easier to work with.
Oil up those hands again! Gently stretch the dough so that it fits all the way into the corners of the pan. Try not to tear it, just stretch and push. If it's not cooperating, let it alone for another 10 minutes for more relaxing. Cover with a piece of oiled plastic and let it sit in the fridge at least 8 hours and up to 24. I did it for about 24 hours.
About an hour and 1/2 before you would like to eat this amazing focaccia, pull it out of the fridge and let it sit for approximately 1 hour. It should look wet and pretty bubbly from the yeast action. Preheat your oven to 450° F and place a rack in the middle. Prep whatever toppings you want to put on the focaccia. If you would like, thinly slice a red onion by hand or with a mandolin.
When ready, remove the plastic, drizzle some olive oil over the top of the dough, oil up your hands again and with the tips of your fingers, press down on the dough all over the surface and all the way to the bottom of the pan, creating a dimple effect. Sprinkle the Maldon over the top and don't be shy about it! Add the sliced onion and bake for about 25-30 minutes. The top should be a deep golden brown and the bottom should be set and golden brown, not pale and soft. Let it cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Or, have no patience and cut and eat a piece immediately. No one will judge you.