Focaccia Bread Recipe

*warning: this recipe is time consuming, read all the way through prior to actually baking it

For the Bread:

5 cups bread flour

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons instant yeast

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups water, at room temperature

Extra olive oil, for greasing the pan & for drizzling on bread

Coarse sea Salt to sprinkle prior to baking

Optional: Rosemary to sprinkle on top as well

Directions:

1. Stir together the flour, salt, and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Add the olive oil and water and mix on low speed with the paddle attachment until all the ingredients form a sticky ball. Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until the dough is soft and sticky. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl.

2. Sprinkle enough flour on the counter to make a bed about 6 inches square. Using a scraper or spatula dipped in water, transfer the sticky dough to the bed of flour and dust liberally with flour, patting the dough into a rectangle. Let the dough relax for 5 minutes.

3. Coat your hands with flour and stretch the dough from each end to twice its size. Fold it, letter style, over itself to return it to a rectangular shape. Mist the top  of the dough with spray oil, again dust with flour, and loosely cover with plastic wrap.

4. Let rest for 30 minutes. Stretch and fold the dough again; mist with spray oil, dust with flour, and cover. After 30 minutes, repeat this one more time.

5. Allow the covered dough to proof on the counter for 1 hour. It should rise but not double in size.

6. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and drizzle olive oil over the paper. Spread the oil with your hands or a brush to cover the entire surface. Lightly oil your hands and, using a plastic or metal pastry scraper, lift the dough off the counter and transfer it to the sheet pan, maintaining the rectangular shape as much as possible.

7. Drizzle the olive oil and sea salt (or rosemary) over the dough. Use your fingertips to dimple the dough and spread it to fill the pan simultaneously. Only use your fingertips to avoid tearing or ripping the dough. Try to keep the thickness as uniform as possible across the surface. Don’t worry if you are unable to fill the pan 100 perfect, especially the corners. As the dough relaxes and proofs, it will spread out and fill the pan.

8. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough overnight (or for up to 3 days).

9. Remove the pan from the refrigerator 3 hours before baking. Drizzle additional oil over the surface and dimple it in. This should allow you to fill the pan completely with the dough to a thickness of about 1/2-inch. Cover the pan with plastic and proof the dough at room temperature for 3 hours, or until the dough doubles in size, rising to a thickness of nearly 1 inch.

10. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Place the pan in the oven. Lower the oven setting to 450 degrees F and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and continue baking the focaccia bread for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it is lightly golden brown.

11. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately transfer the focaccia out of the pan onto a cooling rack. Allow the focaccia to cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting and serving.