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How to make focaccia bread (It's easier than you think!)

Focaccia. That chewy, airy, flat Italian bread that pairs so well with cheeses, olives, or just about anything savory. It’s the perfect canvas for fresh herbs or thinly sliced veggies. You can also top it with marinara and mozzarella slices for a quick pizza (thanks to my sister for the meal inspiration!), or slice it lengthwise for a sandwich.

If you're craving focaccia now, you can always order ours for Friday pickup, or find it on the menu at Lewis & Elm. But I also wanted to share my process in case you’d like to make it yourself! It takes time but is easy-peasy. Here’s the process I follow.

Wednesday night

9:00 pm – Feed sourdough starter. If you’d like to use yeast instead, you get to skip this step—and your whole fermentation/rising process will be much shorter. But we think sourdough is well worth the wait—both for health and for flavor!

Thursday morning

7:00 am – Mix up dough. Focaccia is a “pantry ingredient” recipe; chances are, you have what you need at home already. I start off by mixing the following with my hands:

· Bread flour (all-purpose flour will do the trick; your focaccia just won’t be quite as airy)

· Water

· Ripe sourdough starter (again, you can sub yeast!)

· Salt (I use fine grain sea salt in the dough and flaky or coarse sea salt for the top)

7:30 am – Add olive oil. Drizzle in your olive oil and stretch & fold it into the dough. Adding olive oil with the rest of the ingredients at the beginning can make your focaccia denser, so it’s best to wait about half an hour.

8:00 am – Stretch & fold. Giving the dough another set or two of stretches and folds will strengthen it. If you’re not familiar with this technique, it’s basically what it sounds like. 😊 Common for sourdough recipes, it’s an alternative to kneading that is gentler on the dough and on your arms!

Now, we wait. This stretch of time will depend greatly on how active your sourdough starter is, how much starter you use, the temperature of your water, and the temperature of your home.

Thursday afternoon

12:00 pm – Transfer to pans. It’s important to go more by look than by time here—and we’re looking for the dough to have doubled in size. When it has, dump that dough into a 9x13 pan coated with olive oil. (Careful! Focaccia will stick a lot to some pans, especially glass, even with a hefty amount of oil. When in doubt, use parchment paper.)

Again, we wait! This time, we’re looking for the dough to be noticeably puffy and light, with visible air bubbles.

3:00 pm Get ready for the oven. When your focaccia baby looks ready, it’s time for the most fun part—"dimpling" the dough. With wet hands, I use all 10 fingers to poke the dough all over. Here’s what happens:

Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with coarse or flaky salt, and if you’d like, add toppings—fresh herbs, veggies, garlic… (We’ll have another post specifically about toppings coming soon!)

Pop it in the oven at 450 for about half an hour.

3:30 pm Take that focaccia out of the oven when it’s golden brown all over.

Move it to a cooling rack and try to wait at least 30 mins before diving in. It should be crispy on the outside with a light, chewy center. Buon appetito!

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