With less than 10-minutes of hands-on time, the name Ridiculously Easy Focaccia Bread says it all! Almost. It’s also ridiculously delicious!
I feel like I’m introducing you to an old friend, as I write about this fabulous, easy focaccia bread. I’ve been making it all summer, despite the fact that it’s been a crazy couple of months as we packed up our home in Raleigh (after 37 years) and moved to the mountains of North Carolina, near Asheville. Believe me, the only frequent-flyers in my kitchen this summer have been recipes that took minimal effort and (of course) were super delicious!
Strict guidelines for Ridiculously Easy label
The first time I made this easy focaccia bread I was thrilled with the results and knew that it had to go into our Café Ridiculously Easy Series. How does a recipe get labeled “ridiculously easy”? Well, here at The Café, it has to have certain characteristics to earn that prestigious label:
- A recipe that takes minimal effort and minimal hands-on time to put together. (Resting, rising or chilling time is not taken into consideration.)
- It’s also one that produces fabulous, super delicious results, ie, results that “appear” to have taken lots of time, talent, prowess and/or hard work.
- Ridiculously easy recipes have to work well on those busy days when time is short and expectations are high.
- And last, ridiculously easy recipes are perfect for entertaining, mostly because of the first two characteristics. They take the stress out of dinner parties and gatherings of families and/or friends and allow you more time to enjoy your guests. Bottom line? They are super simple, something anyone can do. (Shhhh! We’ll keep that part our secret.)
An easy technique
I know, you might be looking at the pictures of this Ridiculously Easy Focaccia Bread and thinking that I’m spoofing you about the “easy” part, right? I don’t blame you – but it’s true! Let me convince you by sharing (in a nutshell) how it comes together:
- Combine flour, instant yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Add warm water and stir until the flour is incorporated. Cover it up, pop the bowl into the refrigerator and forget about it until the next day.
- About two hours before baking time, grease two pans, line them with parchment paper and give each a drizzle of olive oil. Remove the bowl from the refrigerator, divide the dough in two and plop it in the prepared pans. Now forget about it again as you putter around the house, catch up on emails, make some phone calls or whatever it is you need to do.
- After two hours, the dough will have filled the pans and be almost ready to bake. Top the dough with another drizzle of olive oil and have some fun with your fingers, poking holes in the soft dough (for that classic dimpled focaccia texture). Sprinkle the top with sea salt and/or herbs and you’re done on your end.
- Now the oven does the magic, transforming the fluffy dough into crisp, golden circles of deliciousness that are perfect for sandwiches, with soups or to fill your dinner bread basket.
Did you notice there’s NO KNEADING? In the past, I believed that you had to do a lot of work, including kneading to a achieve a beautiful, rustic, richly flavored bread with lots of big, irregular holes. In fact, the folks at King Arthur Flour have reported that one of the most common questions they get on their baker’s hotline is “How do I get those big, irregular holes in my bread?” They devote a whole article to the complexity of how to achieve this texture – but guess what? With this Ridiculously Easy Focaccia Bread it (magically) just “happens”.
Another thing I love about this easy focaccia bread – in comparison to every other focaccia bread that I’ve made, this one has minimal fat. Each loaf (which makes 6-8 sandwiches or 8 generous bread servings) has only 2 tablespoons of olive oil. If you google “focaccia bread” you’ll see that most recipes have much more oil. One popular recipe from The Food Network includes a whole cup of olive oil – yikes!
Have I convinced you? Are you ready to feel like a little Italian breadmaker? You probably have everything you need to make this Ridiculously Easy Focaccia Bread. Whip up a batch of dough tonight and tomorrow your family just might think they’ve been transported to a wonderful Panificio (the Italian word for bakery) as the incredibly delicious fragrance of baking bread wafts through the house!
Café Tips for making this Ridiculously Easy Focaccia Bread
- I like to use bread flour if I have it – but it isn’t necessary. Bread flour is higher in protein and is supposed to create more stability, form, and rise in the dough, allowing it to lift and hold shape. I have used both bread flour and all-purpose flour with good results.
- I use one of these Danish Whisks to easily mix up my dough. They’re inexpensive and make whipping up any dough super simple. With this particular brand you get two professional-grade whisks. Keep one for yourself and give the other to a baking friend. He/she will think quite fondly of you every time they mix a batch of dough!
- You can cut this easy focaccia bread into wedges or crossways, into strips. I love cutting it in strips, crisping it up in a pan with a drizzle of olive oil and serving it with soup. Just brush the cut sides of the bread lightly with olive oil then heat a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add the bread and cook on both sides until golden. Delish!
- Be sure to grease your pan and line with parchment paper. An easy way to line your pans with parchment? Take a piece of parchment slightly larger than the diameter of your pan. Fold it in half and then in quarters. Fold the quarter in half and then in half one last time. You will end up with a long skinny triangular-shaped wedge. Turn the pan you want to line upside down. Place the tip of your parchment paper triangle at the approximate center of the pan and lay it flat so the unfolded edges are lying over the edge of the pan. Trim the paper with a scissors, about a quarter inch in from the edge of the pan. Unfold and line your pan with the circle you created.
- This recipe calls for Instant Yeast which is also called Rapid Rise Yeast. You can find Instant or Rapid Rise Yeast at most grocery stores, right next to the regular yeast. You can also buy it in bulk and store it indefinitely in the freezer. It’s infineitely cheaper buying yeast in bulk vs purchasing it in the little packets.
- Don’t worry about exact rising time with this easy focaccia bread. I have done as little as eight hours and as much as 24. Your results will be wonderful as long as it rises at least 8 hours. The second rise (in the pan) should be at least 2 hours unless your kitchen is really warm. In this case, it may be a bit shorter. The dough should be close to filling the pan.
- Don’t be shy when you “dimple” the dough, just before baking. You want to poke your fingers in all the way to the bottom of the pan and actually make little holes with your fingers. This will ensure nice deep dimples that won’t disappear in the oven.
- Dry or fresh herbs can be used to top this bread. I like to use dry Italian seasoning or fresh rosemary or thyme. Chives and sage would also be delicious.
- Use flaky sea salt to top this bread. It gives a nice little crunch and a pretty presentation. I like Maldon. It’s more expensive than kosher or regular salt but a box will go a long way. Use it as a “finishing” salt rather than an everyday salt.
Asheville and the surrounding area is well known for its wonderful restaurants. Last week, Scott and I had a lunch delightful at a Café in Black Mountain (not far from our home). I went crazy over the delicious roasted red pepper soup and promptly came home and created something similar. Check back in a few days for the recipe. In the meantime, make this Ridiculously Easy Focaccia Bread and stash a loaf in the freezer. It will be FABULOUS with the roasted red pepper soup!
With less than 10-minutes of hands-on time, the name Ridiculously Easy Focaccia Bread says it all! Almost. It's also ridiculously delicious!
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2¼ teaspoons instant yeast (1 packet)
- 2 cups warm tap water
- 1 teaspoon butter for greasing pan
- 4 tablespoons olive oil divided
- Italian seasoning or finely chopped fresh herbs
- flaky sea salt I like Maldon
- In a medium-large bowl, combine flour, salt, and instant yeast. Stir well. Add the warm water. Using a Danish Whisk, sturdy wooden spoon or a rubber spatula, mix until all of the flour is incorporated. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.
Lightly butter two 9-inch cake pans. Line pans with parchment paper. Pour one tablespoon of olive oil into the center of each pan. Divide dough in half with a large spoon or rubber spatula and place one piece of dough in each pan, turning to coat with oil. Tuck edges of dough underneath to form a rough ball. Cover each pan tightly with plastic wrap and allow the dough balls to rest for 2 hours depending. The dough should cover most of the pan.
- Preheat oven to 450˚F with a rack positioned in the center of the oven.
- Drizzle another tablespoon of oil over each round of dough. With oiled fingers, using both hands, press straight down and create deep dimples that go all the way through the dough (in other words, you'll actually be making deep holes.) If necessary, gently stretch the dough as you dimple to allow the dough to fill the pan.
- Sprinkle tops with Italian seasoning (or fresh herbs) and flaky sea salt.
- Transfer the pans to the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 425˚F. Bake for 22 to 28 minutes, until the tops are golden and the undersides are crisp. Remove pans from the oven. With a metal spatula remove bread rounds from the pans and transfer to a cooling rack.
- Serve warm or allow to cool completely then store in a zippered bag.
- To freeze, allow bread to cool completely, then transfer to a ziplock bag and freeze. Thaw and enjoy at room temperature or warm for 10 minutes in a 350˚F oven.
Adapted from Alexandra Cooks:
Check out other seasonal recipes we’ve posted in August…
1 year ago – Guasacaca (Venezuelan Guacamole)
2 years ago – Microwave Caramel Sauce (the real deal)
3 years ago – Sweet and Spicy Mango Salad Dressing
4 years ago – Asian Honey-Sesame Salad Dressing
5 years ago – Chicken, Zucchini and Fresh Corn Burgers
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