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Easy, Homemade Focaccia Bread

Easy, Homemade Focaccia Bread
From Chef Anne Burrell

1-3/4 cups warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar
5 cups all purpose flour, plus additional for kneading
1 Tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Combine the warm water (by warm I mean body temperature, you should be able to place your finger in the water and not get burned and it should not feel cold), yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Put the bowl in a warm (not hot or cool) place until the yeast is bubbling and aromatic, at least 15 minutes.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, 1 Tablespoon of kosher salt, 1/2 cup olive oil and the yeast mixture on low speed. Once the dough has come together, continue to knead for 5-6 minutes on medium speed until it becomes smooth and soft. Give it a sprinkle of flour if the dough is really sticky and tacky.

Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly floured surface, then knead it a couple of times, sprinkling with flour. The dough is a “more tacky” kind of dough so rolling it around in some flour a few times until you can handle it is normal.

Coat the inside of the mixer bowl lightly with olive oil and return the dough to the bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size (as shown), 1 to 2 hours.

Coat a jelly roll pan (it must have sides) with the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil. Do not worry that this is an excessive amount of oil, focaccia is an oily crusted bread, which is why it is so good. The oil will be sucked up into the bread during baking, making it delicious.

Put the dough onto the jelly roll pan and begin pressing it out to fit the size of the pan. Turn the dough over to coat the other side with the olive oil. Continue to stretch the dough to fit the pan (it will eventually go into place). As you are doing so, spread your fingers out and make finger holes all the through the dough. It sounds strange but when the dough rises again it will create the characteristic craggy looking focaccia. If you do not make the actual holes in the dough, the finished product will be very smooth.

Put the dough in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour. While the dough is rising a second time, preheat the oven to 425o F.

Liberally sprinkle the top of the focaccia with some coarse salt and lightly drizzle a little oil on top.

Bake the dough until the top of the loaf is golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. It does brown fast towards the end so keep your eye on it. Remove the focaccia from the oven and resist every urge to tear into it immediately. Let it cool keeping the steam inside and intact, leaving you with a very moist bread. Carefully remove from the jelly roll pan whole after it has been out of the oven for 10 minutes.

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