The Gourmandise School - Focaccia
Bread Camp: Day 1

Bread Camp Day 1: Focaccia

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Focaccia

It’s Day 1 of Bread Camp – and we’re making Focaccia! This one-bowl, sheet pan bread that can double as your dinner and takes about 3 hours from start to finish. Join us for a 30-minute class filled with tips on using bread vs. all purpose flours, whole wheat flours, slowing down or speeding up the rising process and delicious ways to top your focaccia. We’ll also be starting our sourdough cultures together, so grab a jar!

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Gourmandise Focaccia

FOCACCIA

  • 740g (3 cups) water, at room temperature or very slightly warm*
  • 5g (2 tsps) active dry yeast
  • 850g (7 cups) bread flour**
  • 10g (scant 2 tsps) flaked salt, such as kosher or flaked sea salt
  • 100g (1/2 cup) olive oil, for later

Place the water in a large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and slosh about until it looks fairly dissolved. Add the flour and salt and mix with a flat, open hand, scraping the sides of the bowl, until the mixture looks just barely mixed together. The dough should feel like sticky and look like a just-set pudding. Set aside for 20 minutes.

Return to your bowl and do a series of stretching and folding, turning the bowl a quarter turn as you take your flat, open hand, reach under the dough, stretching it as far as it will allow you to and flopping it over itself. Repeat until the dough resists your tries. Let it rest another 20 minutes. Repeat three times so that you have done 4 of these stretching and folding sessions.

Let the dough rise, undisturbed, in a span of time called bulk rising. This can take place over one hour at room temperature OR for about 8 hours in the fridge. Once the bulk rise is done, it’s time to shape!

Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper. Pour out half of your olive oil onto the parchment and, using one hand, spread it all over. Use your oiled hand to scrape out and dump the focaccia dough onto the sheet pan. Flip the dough over and dimple the dough aggressively – as though you were getting really mad playing the piano – while stretching it within about an inch of the edges of the pan. Let this rise for about one hour, or about 1.5 hrs if the dough had been rising in the fridge.

About 30 minutes into this final proofing, preheat your oven to 425°F (400°F if you have a convection oven). At this time, pour the rest of the olive oil over the dough and re-dimple it. Let it finish rising, then place in the oven to bake until you reach a rich, golden hue.

* Should you decide to make the focaccia as spectacular as can be (see below), you may find that the dough will require a touch more water. Add water, a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture looks like that just-set pudding we mentioned earlier.

** While this recipe is lovely just with bread flour, you can make spectacular with a blend of bread flour and one or more whole grain flours, such as Spelt or Hard Red (which is what you’ll find labeled as most Whole Wheat Flour in the store). Start with a blend of 50% bread flour and 50% of either wheat mentioned above. Other great wheat varieties are Sonora and Hard White.

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