Focaccia or Nocaccia? I’m not sure. I just know that I had it in my head that I wanted to make focaccia bread for the first time. Whether or not I actually did it is anyone’s guess. Perhaps a bread maker with more experience can chime in. I can tell you one thing—this is the best bread I’ve ever made. Ever. So I’m pretty proud of that. Another thing to mention: no bread machine or stand mixer required! That’s right, you’ll only need to get your hands a little dirty, but that’s okay.
I spent a good part of the morning yesterday looking at various recipes in order to determine what makes focaccia focaccia. It’s obviously pretty thin, it’s got lots of air pockets, and a lot of them have those signature finger dimples on the top. There are also tons of variations, more than I ever imagined.
After watching a clip of Gordon Ramsay’s version I liked how he purposely refrained from kneading the dough a second time so that it would come out nice and thick. I decided to take that advice. I opted not to use his recipe though, mainly because his uses a mixture of bread flour and semolina flour and I really didn’t feel like going to the store for semolina. After reviewing recipes I settled on the plainest, easiest one I could find and then added my own herbs, spices, and toppings to make it my own.
I got the inspiration for my toppings from an old pizza recipe that I found years ago. The recipe called for thinly sliced Roma tomatoes to be marinated in a mixture of olive oil, salt, and garlic before layering them on top of the crust. The tomatoes were essentially infused with these flavors, making it better than any pizza sauce I’ve ever tasted.
While I didn’t marinate the tomatoes for this focaccia I did use all of the same flavors. I was trying to keep it simple since I had no idea what this bread would do in the oven. I can say that there really isn’t any difference in flavor whether you marinate the tomatoes or not, but I may go the extra mile and try it that way next time.
So let’s get to it! Don’t forget, you can find the printable recipe if you scroll to the bottom of this post.
Step 1: First things first, add your vegetable oil to your warm water and then add the dried yeast to give it a good head start. In a separate bowl, add all of the other ingredients sans the olive oil. Stir to combine.
Step 2: Create a well in the middle of your dry ingredients and begin to slowly pour in the yeast/oil/water mixture, using your fingers to get it incorporated. It will be sticky!
Step 3: Eventually you’re just going to have to dump that shiz out on a lightly floured surface. Knead it gently until you can somewhat form it into a nice round ball. This doesn’t take more than a minute or two.
Step 4: Place the ball into a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise for an hour.
Here it is when the hour is up. Yeasty!
Step 5: While the dough is rising feel free to thinly slice your tomato and infuse your olive oil with some of that garlic and sea salt. Just add it straight into the oil and give it a stir. You will brush the dough with this later.
Step 6: As I mentioned earlier, I decided not to knead my dough a second time after the first rise. I followed Gordon Ramsay’s advice and just put it straight into my baking dish. Gently press the dough into the sides of the dish, and then using your fingers or a wooden spoon, make those signature dimples across the surface. Lastly, spread that garlic and salt infused olive oil all across the top and watch as it sets into those dimples. Yum.
It is also at this point that you should start preheating your oven to 425º F or 218º C.
Step 7: Add all of your toppings. Lay the tomato slices over the top and then sprinkle with a generous amount of feta and Parmesan cheeses. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until the bread has slightly risen, it is a beautiful golden color, and the tomatoes seem to have shrunk a tad.
When it comes out, it will be nice and golden. Like this!
Step 8: Dress it up by adding a tiny sprinkling of even more feta cheese (just to get that whiteness back) and a couple of sliced basil leaves. If you have any olive oil left over go ahead and brush some over the top to really make it glisten. And that’s it!
It almost looks like a pizza. A delicious, bready pizza.
I gave some of this bread to both sets of neighbors and everyone gave it a thumbs up. I actually meant to create a nice herbed oil to dip this in but it didn’t even need it because the herbs are already in the bread. This bread is definitely hearty enough to eaten as a meal; if you want some meat maybe consider adding a few slices of prosciutto on top.
As far as sandwiches go, if I’m being honest that’s where I feel like this focaccia went wrong. It was so fluffy it didn’t seem like it would hold up very well to being cut horizontally. Then again, that was my perception of the bread just minutes after it came out of the oven. I noticed when I ate the last piece today that it did seem to firm up a bit. It’s worth a try. It basically shares the same texture as any other yeast bread that I’ve made.
I don’t even care if it’s a nocaccia; it’s been less than 24 hours and the bread is gone. That is all you really need to know about the flavor.
So I really hope you’ll give this a try, and if you DO, please comment and let me know how it came out. You can obviously switch up so many different ingredients, from the spices you put in the dough to what kinds of veggies you put on top. Artichoke hearts? Olives? Pine nuts? Ooh, a nice pesto spread? You be the judge!
- 2 3/4 c (330 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 packet (8 g) of instant dry yeast
- 1 tsp (4 g) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp (6 g) of salt
- 1 tsp (3 g) of onion powder
- 1 tsp (1 g) of dried oregano
- 1 tsp (1 g) of dried basil
- 1 dash of cayenne (Because Chef John does so why can't I?)
- 1/4 c (3o g) of grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 c warm water (between 105º-115º F, 40º-46º C)
- 1 tbsp (14 g) vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp (28 g) olive oil
- 1/2 of one Roma tomato, sliced thinly
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp (42 g) olive oil
- 1 tbsp (14 g) sea salt
- feta cheese, to taste
- Parmesan cheese, to taste
- 1-2 fresh basil leaves for garnish
- Add your vegetable oil to your warm water and then add the dried yeast to give it a good head start. In a separate bowl, add all of the other ingredients sans the olive oil. Stir to combine.
- Create a well in the middle of your dry ingredients and begin to slowly pour in the yeast/oil/water mixture, using your fingers to incorporate it.
- Dump it out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead it gently until you can somewhat form it into a nice round ball. This doesn't take more than a minute or two.
- Place the ball into a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise for an hour.
- While the dough rising, thinly slice your tomato toss it in your olive oil and garlic. Set aside.
- Take your freshly risen dough and gently press it into the sides of a lightly greased baking dish.
- Lay the tomato slices over the top and drizzle with the garlic/salt/olive oil mixture. Sprinkle the whole thing with a generous amount of feta and Parmesan cheeses. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until the bread has slightly risen, it is a beautiful golden color, and the tomatoes seem to have shrunk a tad.
- Dress it up by adding a tiny sprinkling of even more feta cheese and a couple of sliced basil leaves.
Until next time <3