If you watched Salt, Fat, Sour, Heat a few years ago, you probably remember the striking scene about making focaccia. The bakers are in great shape: it took days to craft, using the best oils, gently stretching and denting, giving the bread a juicy crumb and crunch. This is not that kind of bread.
It’s a huge delicious shortcut and can be done in less than two hours from start to finish. It’s still golden and crispy, and you won’t mind the time and effort exchange too much when you’re nibbling it from the oven.
This dough is also very flexible. If you bake it in a greased cake pan, it becomes thick and springy, perfect for dipping sauces or soups. You can also choose to spread it out and gently shape the dough into a rough rectangle on a baking sheet. This bakes up thin and crispy, and when cut into matching cubes, makes for a great sandwich. If you’re in a hurry, you can be a little stingy with the proving time, or let it rise a little longer to match your finished meal. There’s not much you can do with this loose dough, so it’s a great starter bread. Enjoy it hot and crisp right out of the oven.
3 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon olive oil + more for the pan
Sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper
- In a bowl, combine dry ingredients. By hand or with the dough hook of the machine, mix the wet ingredients and pour in the oil after the water. Knead until dough is smooth, 5 minutes more.
- Cover with a towel. Set aside in a warm place, about 60 minutes.
- To make thick bread. Drizzle a 9-inch round cake pan with a little olive oil. Gently spread the rested dough in the pan, flipping once to coat both sides with oil. Cover and wake up for another 20 minutes or so. If desired, make small pockets with your fingers and spread out. Sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper.
If making a thin cookie-like loaf. Drizzle the olive oil onto the baking sheet and spread it with your fingers. Use oiled fingers to pick up the risen dough and spread it lightly on the baking sheet. Sprinkle a little more olive oil on top and use your fingertips to dent the dough. Cover and wake up for another 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Bake on the lowest rack of the oven at 400F for 20-25 minutes, or until nicely browned.
Choice of ingredients before baking: kosher salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, thinly sliced and oiled onions, dried herbs
Topping options after baking: chopped fresh herbs, parmesan or other grated cheese
If you’re a pizza baker, use what you know to get a good, crisp bottom from your oven. You can bake this dough in a cast iron skillet or on your dedicated steel pizza pan. Of course, throw the pan on the preheated stone if that’s what you usually do. If you’re used to a particular oven setting for pizza, use that setting, keep the temperature at 400F, and pay attention to the baking time.