Herb-Flavored Focaccia

Focaccia bread has become a popular favorite for use in pizzas and as a delicious accompaniment to Italian or any other meals. To make this more crispy, drizzle a little olive oil on the crust before baking; to make it softer, brush the crust with oil immediately after it comes out of the oven. Focaccia, a wonderful sandwich bread alternative, can transform a simple entrée into a special treat.

Serves: 18Hands-on: 20 minutesTotal: 3 hours 20 minutesDifficulty: Medium


Serves: 18

Ingredients

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup lukewarm water (105°F), divided
  • 1 tsp. plus 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. salt, divided
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp. coarse salt
  • cooking spray

Directions

  • In a large mixing bowl, stir the yeast into ¼ cup of the lukewarm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining ¾ cup lukewarm water and the olive oil. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 cup flour and whisk until smooth. Stir in the remaining flour, ½ cup at a time, until the dough comes together in a rough mass.
  • On a lightly-floured work surface, knead the dough until smooth, 8 to 10 minutes. Lightly oil a bowl with 1 teaspoon oil, place the dough in it, and turn the dough to coat with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1½ hours.
  • Divide the dough into 2 equal portions and knead slightly. Spray 2 cake pans (8") with nonstick cooking spray. Place the dough into the two pans, and gently stretch it out to the edges, pulling it from the center outward to achieve an even thickness. If the dough springs back toward the center and is difficult to work with, cover and set it aside for 10 minutes to relax, then continue coaxing the dough out to an even thickness. Cover the pans with kitchen towels and let rise until almost doubled in bulk and very soft and puffy, about 45 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 475°F. Using your fingertips, dimple the dough in several places, leaving indentations about ½ " deep. Again cover the pans with towels and let rise for 20 minutes longer. Brush the tops with 1 tablespoon olive oil, then sprinkle with rosemary and remaining salt. Bake until golden brown and cooked through, 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Serve hot or at room temperature.