Puffy Ligurian-Style Rosemary Focaccia Bread

Rosemary Focaccia (Wendy Goodfriend)

The focaccia of Genoa, a city in the Italian region of Liguria, is renowned for its crisp, olive oil–saturated crust and soft, puffy interior. But since we can’t all travel to Italy every time we have a craving for this popular flatbread (or make a trip to the deservedly renowned Liguria Bakery in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood), I decided to come up with relatively easy solution: make it at home!

This recipe makes one huge focaccia – perfect for a party! – which is baked in a large rimmed baking sheet. You can make it as is, with the heady scent of rosemary, or personalize it in a zillion different combinations. Swap out the herbs for fresh thyme or oregano, add chopped green onions, or even stir in some pitted and chopped black olives or caramelized onions. Once baked, you could even turn it into a pizza base with a thick swipe of tomato sauce and shredded cheese (just pop it back in the oven for about 10 minutes once you top it to warm the toppings and melt the cheese).

Make sure you use active dry yeast, which is different than instant or rapid rise; active dry needs to be proofed before using.

Freshly baked Rosemary Focaccia right out of the oven.
Freshly baked Rosemary Focaccia right out of the oven. (Wendy Goodfriend)

Recipe: Rosemary Focaccia

Makes 1 large focaccia

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Ingredients:

  • 2 packages (4 1/2 tsp) active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cups warm water (110–115F)
  • 1 1/2 lb (5 cups) unbleached bread flour, plus more if needed
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for the pan
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary

Instructions:

    1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the yeast, sugar, and warm water, then whisk in the 1 cup of the flour. Allow it to stand for 30 minutes in a warm place. Add the remaining flour, the salt, 1/4 cup olive oil, and the rosemary. Insert the dough hook and knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or until supple and soft and it begins to clear the sides of the mixing bowl (the dough will be sticky).

    1. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 1 minute. Form the dough into a ball. Clean out the mixing bowl and then grease it with a little olive oil. Return the dough to the bowl, turning the dough to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl loosely with greased plastic wrap and set it in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.

    1. Line a rimmed baking sheet (about 12 x 17 inches) with parchment. Drizzle the parchment with a few tablespoons olive oil, then spread it out with your fingers or a pastry brush to cover the surface of the parchment. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet. Using your hands, spread and press the dough into the pan; it should nearly fill it. With your fingertips, dimple the surface of the dough all over. Brush the dough all over with olive oil. Cover gently with a piece of greased plastic wrap and let rise until the dough is puffy, about 30 minutes.

    1. Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 450F. (If you are using any toppings, now is the time to gently place them atop the focaccia.) Bake until golden and cooked through, about 20 minutes. Slide the focaccia onto a wire rack to cool, removing the parchment. Let cool slightly before cutting.

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