Focaccia is a thick and airy flat bread, often served as street food or “fast food” in Italy. Happily, it’s easy to make this focaccia bread recipe at home from just a handful of simple ingredients.
Piadina, a thin Italian flatbread, is used to make sandwiches.
Focaccia (often misspelled as foccacia) is similar to pizza dough, but is generally served with fewer toppings than pizza. It tends to be thick and somewhat airy, rather than the thin crust of pizza dough. It’s pronounced fo-ka-chuh.
Years ago, when I visited Parma with my family, we found a shop that specialized in takeout focaccia slices. The shop was busy, but when we finally managed to convey our order to the server using gestures and a poor attempt at speaking Italian, they sent us away with delicious warm focaccia wrapped in paper.
I’d made focaccia at home, of course, but this humble meal tasted especially delicious while on vacation. It always does, right??
Not to be outdone by Parma, the old town of Bergamo Alta offered up focaccia that was a bit more elaborate. Imagine huge, thick slices of this famous flat bread topped with walnuts and blue cheese. Or sausage and mozzarella. It was definitely more pizza-like!
In any case, once we came home from that well-fed vacation we had focaccia on our minds. Time to get baking!
Flour: When I bake with all-purpose flour I opt for the unbleached version. Bleached flour is very white, but it’s also treated with bleaching agents that I don’t really need in my food. Can you use bread flour? Yep! It can make for a slightly chewier dough. Measure it 1:1 to replace the all-purpose flour.
Olive oil: Use a good quality oil so you really get the authentic flavor. Extra virgin olive oil is a good choice.
Active dry yeast: This is the ingredient that provides leavening and makes the bread rise.
Salt: Select a high-quality salt.
Garlic: Finely chopped garlic adds that spicy zing we all love so much.
Fresh rosemary: You’ll get the best flavor if you use chopped fresh rosemary, but if you only have dried, that will work.
Cherry tomatoes: Halved cherry tomatoes make the top of the focaccia bread pretty. If you prefer, you can cut thin slices of beefsteak tomatoes and set those on top of the dough before baking.
Some focaccia bread recipes call for a long rise. Nothing wrong with that at all. But sometimes our bellies just don’t want to wait! This recipe is a quick way to get a homemade yeasted bread on the table in a hurry.
To get started with the dough, you’ll combine the yeast with lukewarm water. This is called “proofing” the yeast and gives you a chance to see if your yeast is viable. If it doesn’t bubble and foam, the yeast is old and will not give rise to the bread.
To make dough by hand:
Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl; add yeast mixture. Stir with a spoon to make a shaggy dough. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead with your hands for 3-5 minutes. Dough should come together and be smooth.
Place dough ball into a well-oiled bowl and cover with a damp tea towel; allow to rise for about 30 minutes.
To make dough in a stand mixer:
Combine dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer; add yeast mixture. Attach a dough hook and turn machine on to low. Knead for 3-5 minutes. Cover with a damp tea towel. Allow to rise for 30 minutes.
Transfer dough to a baking sheet and use your hands to press the dough out toward the edges. Allow dough to rise again for 30 minutes. It will get puffy in the pan.
Use your fingers to press dimples into the surface of the focaccia dough.
After the second rise, spread the surface of the dough with olive oil, sprinkle on pepper and rosemary, and top with the tomatoes and garlic.
Bake until nicely browned.
Serve this tomato focaccia recipe alongside soup, such as this Tuscan white bean soup, or pack it along as an easy meal on the go. The richness of the tomatoes and roasted garlic make it perfectly delicious on its own!
Seal cooled focaccia bread in an airtight container and keep at room temperature for several days.
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- 3/4 cups warm water
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons rapid rise yeast
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 6-8 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
- 8-10 garlic cloves smashed
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
- 7-8 cherry tomatoes, halved
- Combine the yeast and the water in a jar with the sugar.
- Allow to sit for a few minutes until the mixture becomes bubbly and a thick layer of foam forms.
- Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, then add the yeast mixture, stirring to make a shaggy dough.
- Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 3-5 minutes. Alternatively, use a stand mixer equipped with a dough hook.
- Place the ball of dough into a large oiled bowl. (If you're using the stand mixer option, leave the dough in that bowl.) Cover the dough with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap; let dough rise for 30 minutes.
- Place the dough in a well oiled 8" x 8" baking pan. Use your hands to press the dough out toward the edges of the pan. Cover and allow to rise again for about 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven while dough is resting.
- Press your fingers into the dough to form small dimples. Brush the top of the dough with olive oil, allowing some to gather in the dimples. Sprinkle rosemary and pepper evenly across the dough; press tomatoes into the dough, cut side up.
- Bake the dough on the middle rack in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 400°F, or until golden brown.
Mixing the yeast and water together is called "proofing" the yeast. If it doesn't bubble and foam, the yeast is old and will not give rise to the bread.
For a larger batch, double all ingredients and bake on a well-oiled rimmed baking sheet.