I do declare, this is the best focaccia I've ever eaten. I have to give credit where credit is due - this recipe comes from Chef Anne Burrell (love her). I did, however, tweak her recipe slightly by replacing 1/2 of the olive oil she calls for with garlic infused olive oil. Wow, this stuff is amazing.! Brava, Anne!
I'm so thankful for stand mixers and dough hooks. It's hard to believe this unassuming lump of dough is going to end up being so incredibly delish, but it is! If your dough hasn't pulled away from the sides of the bowl like this, sprinkle with a bit of flour and knead a little more.
Place the dough into a very large, well oiled bowl; turning the dough to completely coat with oil. Don't be alarmed by the pool of olive oil - Anne says, "This may seem excessive, but focaccia is an oily crusted bread. This is why it is so delicious!"
Now we cover the bowl with plastic and let it rise at least an hour until it doubles in size.
Happy-Happy. Don't be tempted to punch down or deflate the dough yet.
Now that the dough is done rising, we have to prepare our half sheet pan with the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil (again, I used a combo of half extra virgin olive oil and half garlic infused olive oil). Please ignore that bottle of basil oil - we're not using it today.
Okay, back to the focaccia. Still kinda hard to believe this is going to turn out so wonderful, but trust me, it is! Ok, I know you're just dying to get your hands in that dough, right? The time has finally come - go for it!!
You can squish and smoosh and squeeze all you like. You want to be pretty rough here - press that dough into the pan like you mean it! See all those lumps and bumps? We don't want them on our thighs, but we do want them on our focaccia. Anne's tip: "stretch your fingers out and make holes all the way through the dough". Following Anne's advice will enable the dough to retain that craggy appearance after the second rise. Set the pan aside, uncovered, for another hour. For some reason I didn't get a picture of the risen dough, but it was soft and billowy. Pop it into the oven and about 30 minutes later you'll have a enough focaccia to feed an army.
Garlic Oil and Sea Salt Focaccia
makes one half sheet pan (13 x 18 inches)
1 3/4 cups warm water (between 105-115F)
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon white granulated sugar
5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1 tablespoon Kosher salt, plus coarse sea salt for sprinkling
1 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided (I mixed together half extra virgin olive oil and half garlic infused olive oil)
Proof the yeast by combining it with the water and sugar; stir to dissolve. Let it sit in a warm place until bubbly and aromatic (about 15 minutes).
In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the flour, salt, yeast mixture, and half of the olive oil mixture. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until ingredients are combined. Increase speed to medium and knead for 5-6 minutes until the dough becomes soft and smooth.
Transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl; turning dough until it's well coated. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm place until dough has doubled in size (at least an hour).
Coat a half sheet pan with the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil mixture (half evoo, half garlic infused olive oil). Remove the plastic wrap from your risen dough, but don't intentionally "punch down" or deflate the risen dough. Gently pour the risen dough onto the prepared half sheet pan.
Start pressing the dough into the pan, turn the dough over so both sides get coated with oil. Continue pressing the dough, stretching your fingers through the dough until they touch the pan. When the pressed into the pan completely, set the pan aside in a warm place for the dough to rise a second time, uncovered, for about an hour. Preheat oven to 425F.
After the dough has risen a second time, drizzle lightly with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle liberally with coarse sea salt or kosher salt. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown. Cool before serving, and as Anne says, "Oh Baby!".
Note: feel free to reduce the recipe by half and bake it on a 9x13 quarter sheet pan.
prep time - 20 minutes
rise time - 2 1/4 hours
bake time - 30 minutes
cool time - 30 minutes
total time - about 3 1/2 hours
recipe adapted from Anne Burrell