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Basic Focaccia with Dried Herb Oil

Author: Focaccia: Bake from Scratch, Volume 1 by Brian Hart Hoffman / Dried Herb Oil: Just Cook It! by Justin Chapple

Ingredients

FOCACCIA:

  • 2 ¾ cups bread flour
  • 1 cup semolina flour
  • 2 cups warm water (105 F to 110 F)
  • 2 packets active dry yeast
  • 1 ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • Sea salt, such as fleur de sel, for sprinkling

DRIED HERB OIL:

  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 dried bay leaves, crumbled and minced
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

FOCACCIA:

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, beat bread flour, semolina flour, and 2 cups water at low speed until just combined, about 1 minute. Sprinkle yeast on top of dough and let it sit for 10 minutes.
  • Add salt, and beat on low speed until combined. Increase mixer speed to medium-high, and beat until dough becomes smooth and elastic, anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes. The dough should be smooth and uniform, but it will be sticky. Now reduce mixer speed to low, and with the mixer running, add the olive oil in a slow steady stream. Beat until incorporated, 2 minutes or a little longer. It will not look “right” to you, but it’s fine. Just make sure the oil is not pooling at the bottom of the mixing bowl. The dough will look wet and not totally uniform. That’s okay.
  • Now spray a large mixing bowl with cooking spray and tip the dough into the bowl. Cover the top and let rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, 1 ½ to 2 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a jelly-roll pan (10” by 15”) with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto the prepared pan and use your fingers to stretch it evenly to the edges. Dimple the dough liberally with your fingertips. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake until golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Immediately brush with olive oil when it comes out of the oven. Let cool at least until you can comfortably handle it with your bare hands, or all the way to room temperature.

DRIED HERB OIL:

  • In a small jar or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid, combine the olive oil, bay leaves, oregano, rosemary, and red pepper flakes. Shake well. Season generously with salt and black pepper, and shake again. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before using.
  • Pour some dried herb oil into small, shallow bowls or ramekins. Tear off chunks of focaccia and drag it through/liberally dunk it into the herb oil.

Notes

The focaccia recipe is from Bake From Scratch, Volume 1 by Brian Hart Hoffman and the Dried Herb Oil is from Just Cook It! by Justin Chapple. The focaccia recipe is hard to screw up, thankfully. It will never quite look right until it’s risen, and it will feel much stickier than other bread doughs. But that’s okay, soldier on, it’ll be great. You can sub all-purpose flour for the bread flour, and semolina flour is widely available on the baking aisle of most regular grocery stores these days. While I’ve never had bad focaccia (I don’t think that’s a thing?), this is my favorite I’ve tasted so far. As to the Dried Herb Oil, I’m sure it’s customizable in myriad ways depending on your personal preferences and what’s in your pantry. For the bay leaves though, make sure they are dried, not fresh or even stale, and make sure you finely crumble them. I left mine a little too large and they got stuck in my teeth on occasion.