This was one of my favorite things to snack on while living in Italy. This bread is rustic, hearty, and flavorful. If it seems labor intensive, be assured it is not nearly as labor intensive as most homemade breads.
1 1/2 C warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 3/4 C all-purpose flour
5 TB extra-virgin olive oil
Desired toppings: Kosher or sea salt, dried oregano, dried rosemary, red pepper flakes, drained olives (chopped), drained sun-dried tomatoes (chopped), etc.
In a large bowl, combine 1/2 C warm water, yeast and sugar; stir to dissolve. Let stand about 5 minutes. Add remaining 1 C warm water, 2 TB oil, salt, and flour, then stir to combine. Turn dough onto floured surface & knead about 7 minutes (kneading feels like it takes forever, but this step is so important and does make a difference in your foccacia’s texture!). Dough should be soft; do not add more flour. Shape dough into a ball; place in a greased, large bowl, turning dough once to grease the top. Cover with plastic wrap (I also through a dish towel over that) and let stand in warm place for 1 hour.
Dough should be doubled in volume! Then, and this is my favorite part, punch that dough right in the center. Lightly oil a 15.5″ by 10.5″ (inches) jelly roll pan. Pat dough into the pan, then cover again and let the dough rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.
With fingertips, make deep indentations about 1 inch apart over the entire surface of the dough, almost to the bottom of the pan. Drizzle with remaining 3 TB olive oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; let it rise in warm place for 45 minutes. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Then, add your desired toppings! I always do salt, dried rosemary, and sometimes dried oregano, because that method is extremely popular with my guinea pigs, it’s how I ate foccacia in Italy, and why mess with a great thing?
Bake foccacia on lowest oven rack until the bottom is crusty and top is lightly browned, about 18 minutes. Transfer foccacia to a wire rack to cool, but not completely. Then grab a glass of wine and enjoy this bit of comforting fabulousness.