This Same-Day Focaccia, with large air bubbles and delicious, old-world flavor, takes less than 15 minutes of hands-on time and comes together in significantly less time than traditional, slow-rise focaccia bread.
Although we have a wonderful classic Italian focaccia bread recipe in the Café archives, it's a recipe that requires some forethought as the dough needs an overnight rise. This Same-Day Focaccia is much quicker, coming together from start to finish in right around three hours. And most of that is rising time, with less than 15 minutes of actual hands-on work involved!
As I mentioned above, in classic artisan focaccia recipes (including our Ridiculously Easy Focaccia - pictured below), the dough is stirred together, then popped into the fridge for a slow overnight rise. The actual baking occurs the following day. The long, slow, cold rise is what creates the coveted, large irregular holes that sourdough and artisan breads are known for. The extended, lazy rise also produces a rich, rustic flavor.
A new way of doing things
So how does the same thing happen in just 3 hours? Magic! Yes, it's quite magical that one straightforward little step (repeated twice) creates a beautifully delicious rustic bread in minimal time.
In the bread/pizza baking world, this trick is called "The stretch and fold method". I'm not sure who originated it but Peter Rheinhart the pizza guru, explains the technique like much better than I could:
The stretch and fold method, is a remarkable way to maximize gluten development in a dough with minimum mixing time. It is sometimes referred to as “intermittent kneading” and also by the term “folding.” All of these refer to a similar method, though the time intervals may vary from recipe to recipe. In short, it means to intermittently fold the dough over onto itself during the fermentation stage.
He goes on to say:
What this accomplishes is to strengthen the bonding of the gluten protein threads that hold the dough together and thus trap the carbon dioxide created by the yeast. This is what creates the bubbles or air pockets that we refer to as the “crumb” in the final bread.
Fold and Stretch magic!
So simply folding this Same Day Focaccia dough over itself after 30 minutes and then again after an hour creates a final product (in three hours) that isn't easy to differentiate from the overnight slow-rise method. Take a look at the big, gorgeous, artisan air bubbles:
To see how simple this fold and stretch method is, we took a few pics to demonstrate:
Start by mixing the simple ingredients; bread flour, instant yeast, a pinch of sugar and two teaspoons of kosher salt. Add warm water and stir it all together then add a drizzle of olive oil and stir one more time. Cover the dough, find a cozy place for it to rise and set a timer for 30 minutes.
At 30 minutes the dough will have risen nicely and now it's time for the first "stretch and fold". Use a sturdy spatula to slip down one side of the bowl to the bottom and bring the dough up and over itself. Then turn the bowl 45 degrees and do another stretch and fold. Repeat this 2-3 more times and you're done for now. The entire stretch and fold process will take less than a minute.
Now set the timer for an hour then repeat the stretch and fold. Your dough is now ready for the pan and one last rise before baking.
To see the stretch and fold technique in action and demonstrate the process, from start to finish, my daughter-in-law, Lindsay created a video:
How to serve this Same-Day Focaccia
We have enjoyed this Same-Day Focaccia for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as straight out of the oven! It’s crispy and golden on the top, sides and bottom.
The interior has a delicious airy yet chewy crumb with those fabulous air holes we talked about earlier.
We love this focaccia served with creamy butter and a spread of jam. It's hard to choose a favorite jam from our extensive collection but we are quite partial to the raspberry freezer jam that's shown in these pictures.
It's also wonderful to dip in olive oil OR for an amazing treat, we LOVE it with our 15-Minute Chimichurri Sauce!
Instead of strips, as picture in this post, you can cut the focaccia into squares which are perfect for sandwiches.
Once you try this delicious Same-Day focaccia. it will be on your frequent flyer recipe list. It's SO easy, SO delicious and it's SO rewarding when that fantastic aroma wafts throughout the house just a few hours after you mix up the dough.
Cafe Tips for making this Same-Day Focaccia
- You'll need a 9x13-inch baking pan for this recipe. That's the size of a standard cake pan. This is not a sponsored post but I really like OXO Good Grip baking pans. I've had this 9x13-inch pan for several years. It's sturdy and has held up well under much use (maybe abuse is a better word!).
- This recipe calls for bread flour. Bread flour is higher in protein which is what helps form gluten, so the more protein, the more gluten. That means dough that’s stronger and stretchier and rises more - all of which facilitate those big beautiful air bubbles in good focaccia. (I really like King Arthur Bread Flour which is 12.7% protein.)
- If you don’t have bread flour and don’t want to purchase it, you can also use all-purpose flour for making this recipe. You might not get as much rise but it will still be delicious. (King Arthur AP flour is 11.7% protein.)
- I like to use a sturdy spatula or a Danish Whisk to mix up my dough. They both work well.
- You may find you need a little extra water when making the dough for this focaccia. It can change, depending on the moisture environment in your home as well as your flour — some flours are "thirstier" than others and may therefore need more water.
- While we're talking about mixing the dough, make sure all of the flour is well incorporated and there are not any little pockets of dry flour. I always stir it up until I think it's well mixed and then stir a little more.
- If your kitchen is a bit chilly, you'll need to find a warm spot to let your dough rise. Here are some ideas for creating an ideal rising climate:
- Bring a cup of water to a boil inside your microwave. Place the bowl of dough in the steamy microwave covered with a clean kitchen towel.
- Another microwave trick - place the bowl of dough in the microwave and cover it with a clean kitchen towel. Let one end of the towel hang out of the door. Close the door with the towel across the opening. This will cause the light to remain on in the microwave creating a nice warm environment.
- Heat the oven for 2 minutes then turn it off. Turn the light on in the oven to maintain a warm, cozy rising spot.
- If the top of your refrigerator is clear, this is also a nice warm spot for bread dough.
- You can cut this Same-Day Focaccia into long strips (as pictured in this post) or into squares, which work well for sandwiches.
- Be sure to grease your pan (with butter), line it with parchment paper then add a drizzle of olive oil. This may seem like overkill but the butter adds nice flavor to the crust, the parchment paper keeps it from sticking and the oil gives it amazing crispness.
- 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.
- Sprinkling water over the dough before baking might sound odd but it creates steam in the oven and makes the top of the focaccia nice and crisp.
Thought for the day:
Lift up your eyes on high
And see who has created these stars,
The One who leads forth their host by number,
He calls them all by name;
Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power,
Not one of them is missing.
What we're listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoy this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear your results, adaptations and ideas for variations.
- 4 cups bread flour
- 2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 cups very warm tap water 100-108˚F
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons butter
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- flaky or coarse sea salt or kosher salt if desired
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons room temperature tap water
Combine the flour, salt, yeast and sugar in a large bowl (at least 10 cups). Stir well with a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon to combine.
Add approximately half of the water (no need to measure). Stir well to incorporate the water. The mixture will be shaggy and dry at this point. Add most of the remaining water (reserve 2-3 tablespoons) and stir again until the water is well incorporated. If the mixture seems dry add the rest of the water and stir to combine. You’re look for a thick, shaggy, fluffy wet dough. If the dough still seems dry, add a bit more water, a tablespoon at a time until the thick, shaggy consistency (and no pockets of dry flour) is reached.
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and stir until most of the olive oil is incorporated.
Cover the bowl with a lid or with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes. (If your kitchen is really chilly, you might want to create a warmer environment - see Café Tips for ways to do this)
After 30 minutes, remove the cover and, using either a large spatula or slightly we hands, pick up one side of the dough, stretch it, and then fold it over onto the rest. Turn the bowl one-quarter turn and repeat the stretch and fold. Repeat the stretch and fold 4-5 more times, turning the bowl one-quarter each time.
Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for one hour. During the one-hour rise, use a piece of paper toweling and rub the 2 teaspoons butter over the interior of a 9x13-inch baking pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper then drizzle with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and set aside.
After the one-hour rise, repeat the stretching and folding described in step 2 above, then turn the dough into the prepared pan. Flip the dough over to coat with oil and flatten it out with your hands in the pan. It won’t cover the entire pan at this point but flatten it out as much as you can. Then cover the pan tightly with the plastic wrap. Set aside to rise again for one hour.
When the one-hour rise in the pan is completed, oil your fingers and start at the center of the dough, dimpling and stretching it towards one end of the pan. You’re trying to evenly fill the pan to the edge and into the corners. (Don’t be afraid to be aggressive with your dimpling. You need to reach your fingers down to the bottom of the pan. Deep dimpling creates focaccias signature peaks and valleys and prevents the texture from disappearing during the baking time.)
Return to the center and dimple and stretch the dough out towards the opposite edge. If the dough seems resistant at any point, let it rest for a few minutes then try again.
Once you’ve completed the dimpling, set the pan aside to rest while you preheat the oven. With one rack in the center position, preheat the oven to 500˚F.
Once the oven reaches 500˚, drizzle the dimpled dough with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, then 2 tablespoons of room temperature tap water. Finish off with a light sprinkle of sea salt (or kosher salt).
Bake on the center rack in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until nicely browned.
Remove the focaccia with a metal spatula to a wire rack. Cool for 10-15 minutes before slicing and devouring.
Store in a zippered bag. It also freezes well. I like to slice in in 1-1½-inch strips before freezing so I can pull out as many pieces as I want without thawing the whole thing.
See Café Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips to ensure success.
If you prefer to use Metric measurements there is a button in each of our recipes, right above the word “Instructions”. Just click that button to toggle to grams, milliliters, etc. If you ever come across one of our recipes that doesn’t have the Metric conversion (some of the older recipes may not), feel free to leave a comment and I will add it.