Because they tend to be time consuming (rather than hard) I don’t make yeasted breads often but focaccia is one of my exceptions. It is simultaneously crusty and chewy, slightly tangy yet it hosts other flavors well. And this time of year nothing tastes better alongside a hearty dish of chicken parmesan or chicken stew than a slice of focaccia.
The basis for this recipe comes from Williams Sonoma but I’ve taken the liberty of adding in two classic Italian ingredients, artichokes and parmesan cheese. The dough can be made either by hand or in a bread machine but I love to use my trusty Kitchen Aid stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. This takes all of the work out of making the dough.
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
1 1/2 cups milk
7 tablespoons olive oil, divided
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 – 14 ounce can artichoke hearts, drained, dried and halved
1 ounce hard parmesan cheese, shaved
Coarse sea salt
- Combine the yeast and water in a small bowl, stir until dissolved and allow to stand until the mixture begins to foam, about 5 minutes.
- Add the milk and 4 tablespoons of the olive oil and stir to combine.
- Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
- Add the yeast mixture and mix on low until a soft dough forms.
- Increase the speed and knead until the dough becomes smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
- Shape into a ball and place in a large oiled bowl.
- Cover and allow to sit until the dough rises and has doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
- Evenly distribute 2 tablespoons of the remaining oil in a 15 x 10 x 1 inch jelly-roll pan.
- Punch down the dough, transfer to the prepared pan and use your hands to flatten the dough until it completely covers the bottom of the pan.
- Cover with plastic wrap again and allow to sit for 1 additional hour until the dough has once again doubled in bulk.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Using your fingertips, press down firmly into the dough to make dimples about 1 inch apart and 1 inch deep.
- Drizzle the remaining oil over the surface of the dough.
- Evenly distribute the artichokes and shaved parmesan over the top of the dough.
- Sprinkle with sea salt.
- Bake until golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.
- Cut into squares and serve warm or cool.