This focaccia can be prepared with or with herbs, such as fresh chopped rosemary, thyme, chives, parsley or sage; and also delicious topped with chopped Kalamata olives.
The focaccia is light and airy with the start of a ‘sponge’ and the longer risings.
1 cup warm water (115-117 ° F.)
1 package dry Active yeast, not instant
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup warm water
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4+ cups of flour
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 Tablespoons olive oil combined with 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
10-12 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped, optional
1. Sponge- Sprinkle yeast over the warm water in a large bowl. Sprinkle sugar over yeast and wait 5-10 minutes, until the yeast is foamy. (Proofing)
2. Add the 1 cup of flour and mix well. Cover and let rest for about an hour in a warm spot.
3. Focaccia dough - Add another cup of warm water, olive oil, salt and 1 cup of flour. Mix with wooden spoon, stirring about 30-40 turns. Start adding the remaining 2 + cups of flour. Dough should be smooth, add enough flour just to be kneaded on a floured board or counter. Add a little flour at a time, until a soft dough is formed, but not too dry, want the dough to be slightly sticky.
4. Place dough in a warm, oiled bowl, and cover. Let rise in warm area for 1-2 hours. (Any longer than that, punch down, re cover and let rise another 30 minutes or so)
5. Coat a 9x13 pan with olive oil.
6. Punch down dough, (no more kneading), and add to the pan. Press dough into the corners, and make even thickness. Cover and let rise about 30 minutes.
7. Heat oven to 400°F.
8. Make indentations all over surface of dough with your fingers. Brush the surface with the olive oil & salt mixture. Sprinkle with the chopped rosemary, and optional olives.
9. Bake for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 375°F. and bake about 20 minutes, or until bottom is brown and an instant read thermometer reads 185°F.
10. Remove to cooling rack, cool a few minutes, and cut into squares.
Adapted from Kathleen Sanderson