Through lots of experimentation, I’ve developed my best focaccia recipe, which features a a crispy exterior, and a soft, fluffy inner crumb. The overnight (or longer) rise in the refrigerator helps develop a ton of flavor. In the last couple of years, focaccia has become a sort of Internet sensation. Countless videos have been posted of people dimpling soft, bubbly, dough and topping it with tomatoes, rosemary, peaches, or even chocolate.
I’ve made focaccia many times, but before diving into this project of developing my own recipe, I never realized just how many different variations of this bread existed. I never realized how fermentation time, pan sizes, pan thickness, and oven temperature could yield drastically different results.
This focaccia recipe has a crispy, bubbly, outer crust and a moist, airy inner crumb. The recipe is simple, but it takes time. You can’t speed it up, and in my opinion, you wouldn’t want to. The dough undergoes a slow, cold fermentation in the fridge through an overnight rise and develops a more complex flavor. Pictured here is my classic focaccia dough with a za’atar topping.
Adapt this recipe and make it your own
Given that there are so many variations, there is no way to create one “perfect” focaccia that suits everyone’s preference, but the focaccia recipe included has been tested and adjusted many times to achieve a crunchy exterior and moist, soft, and airy interior. I implore you to try the base focaccia recipe and experiment with different variables to achieve your own perfect focaccia.
A Short History of Focaccia
Focaccia is loosely described as a flat baked bread from Italy. It is similar to pizza dough, and can be used in many ways — eating plain, dipped into olive oil, made into a sandwich, or even cut up for croutons or a panzanella.
Historians believe focaccia was either invented by the Etruscans in Italy or the Ancient Greeks. However, it’s hard to nail down a specific time period or event, as many cultures have their own version of flatbread from ancient times. Of the word focaccia, The American Mag says it “comes from the Latin panis focacius, where ‘panis’ means bread and ‘focacius’ is the word for ‘the center of the fireplace,’ where this popular food was once baked.”
The Many Variations of Focaccia
In Italy, there are many different types of flatbread, from focaccia to pizza bianca to schiacciata. Focaccia itself, is hard to define. Many focaccia varieties have these similarities:
Two rising periods — one period where the dough is mixed together, then set to rest and rise (also called bulk fermentation) and a second period where the risen dough is then transferred to a pan for a second rise.
Dimpling – Before baking, the dough is dimpled using your fingers. Some focaccia variations require light dimpling, while others are more aggressive.
Ingredients – Almost all focaccia varieties use flour, water, salt, oil, and yeast.
Baked – All focaccia varieties in my research are baked in some sort of oven.
But there are also a lot of differences. The best way to demonstrate this is to walk through some of the most popular variations:
Focaccia Genovese: Uses a salt brine, and is cooked at a lower temperature than pizza, yielding a deliciously salty, soft, fine crumb.
Focaccia di Recco: This dough is paper-thin and stuffed with cheese, yielding a thin, crispy pastry crust and oozy, melty goodness
Tuscan Shiacciata: A focaccia typically topped with rosemary or grapes
Fujasa di Susa (from Piedmont): Sweet with a crispy, crunchy crust from a layer of caramelized sugar.
Focaccia Barese (from Bari): Uses semolina and boiled potatoes
A crispy focaccia with a soft inner crust
As you can see, focaccia can mean a lot of things. Some breads are crunchy, some soft, some thick, some thin. Some salty, some sweet. As I said before, there is no one “perfect” focaccia. But there are a lot of tips and tricks you can use to make a delicious focaccia, depending on the variety you choose.
Looking at the above variations, we can start to see that different techniques and ingredient ratios can yield different outcomes. Higher temperatures and/or a thinner focaccia can lead to a crispier, airier crust. Lower temperatures and/or a thicker focaccia can yield a soft, finer crumb.
The recipe I’ve developed caters to my own preferences – a crispier outer crust and a softer inner crust, and a complex flavor from an overnight rise in the fridge (or longer, if desired). It is very forgiving, and you can easily experiment and play around with different variables to adjust to your own liking. Plus, it’s no knead and requires no special equipment!
Crispy and Fluffy Focaccia Recipe
- 600 g High-Protein 00 Flour (5 cups | like Antimo Caputo or bread flour. In a pinch, you can use King Arthur’s all-purpose flour, as it has a higher protein content than other AP flours.)
- 1.6 g Instant Yeast (1/2 teaspoon | For a very bubbly focaccia, increase yeast amount by 50%)
- 18 g Kosher Salt (1 tablespoon | If using diamond crystal kosher salt, use the full amount. If using another kosher salt or table salt, use 12g)
- 450 g Water (450ml | room temperature)
- 30 g Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (33ml | try to use a higher-quality brand, if possible, when dimpling the focaccia just before baking for better flavor)
- In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients (flour, instant yeast, and salt) until combined.
- Add water and olive oil into the bowl. Using a wooden spoon or your hands, mix wet and dry ingredients together until no dry bits remain, about 3 minutes. The dough will be very sticky.
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest, covered, for 20 minutes — this allows the dough to hydrate and kick start gluten development.
- Bulk Fermentation: Perform 4 sets of stretch and fold spaced 30 minutes apart over 2 hours (see below for video demonstration). In between each set, keep dough covered. In other words, you should perform a set of stretch and folds every 30 minutes, which allows the dough to rest in between. At the end of the 2 hours, the dough should have risen slightly and shown some signs of bubbling/yeast activity. If it doesn’t have any signs of activity, let sit at room temperature for another hour.
- Cover the bowl and let sit in the fridge for at least 24 hours up to 72 hours. This time period will allow significantly slow down yeast production, allowing more time for more complex flavors to develop.
- On the day you’d like to make the focaccia, take the bowl out of the fridge. Generously oil a 9×13 pan with at least 2 tablespoons. Using a bench scraper or your hands, tilt the bowl and scrape the dough gently into the oiled pan, ensuring it comes out in one piece. Coat the dough with the oil from the pan on both sides, keeping the prettier side of the dough (the top side that was in the bowl) on top.
- Stretch the dough gently to the sides of the pan. It will likely resist a lot of stretching initially, as the dough needs to relax. I like to pick up the dough and stretch by placing my hands on the underside of it, as opposed to stretching with my hands on top, as I think it stretches more evenly.
- Let dough rest and continue stretching every 20 minutes until it stretches all the way to the sides of the pan.
- Let dough rest, uncovered, an additional 2-4 hours until dough at room temperature, approximately doubled in size, and bubbly.
- One hour before the dough has fully risen, preheat the oven to 500F and adjust the oven rack to the middle of the oven.
- Once the dough has risen, drizzle another generous 2 tablespoons of oil on top of the dough.
- Moisten your hands with a bit of olive oil (this helps your hands from sticking to the dough). Dimple the dough by gently pressing your fingers into the dough all around. Generously top with sea salt or kosher salt and add any toppings.
- Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes until golden brown on top. Turn the pan 180 degrees then reduce the heat to 450F and bake for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown on the top and bottom. If you find the bottom is browning too quickly compared to the top, you can move the pan to a higher rack. If the top is browning too quickly, tent with foil. If both sides are browning too quickly, turn heat down to 425F.
- Once out of the oven, drizzle with a bit more olive oil on top.
- Let cool completely to room temp before slicing on a wire rack or cutting board. If you slice while the bread is still hot, some of the moisture from the focaccia will release and evaporate leading to a drier bread.
- You want to use flour with a high protein content (at least 11%) for nice gluten formation. In a pinch, King Arthur all-purpose flour has a protein content of 11.7% and can be used here with success.
- I don’t have cup measurements here, as I think a scale is the most accurate way to measure the ingredients. However, you can feel free to use an online converter if you’d like.
- In testing, we found that keeping the dough uncovered during the second rise helped it rise faster. The dough shouldn’t dry out because of all of the olive oil, but if you find that it is, you can add a bit more on top.
- Focaccia is best eaten the same day it’s made, but will taste fresh up to 2 days after baking as long as it’s stored in an airtight container or plastic bag. Leftover focaccia can be cut up into cubes and made into croutons or breadcrumbs.
- In baking, I like to bake my focaccia on top of a preheated baking steel. If you have one, I highly recommend it to keep the bottom crispy.
- If you’re using a pan that is less non-stick, make sure to put a bit more oil on the bottom and/or laying some parchment paper down.
Dough will initially resist stretching after taking out of the fridge.
But after time, it will expand to the container with some gentle stretching.
The beauty of this recipe comes from how many variations you can experiment with.
Temperature: I like to bake the focaccia at 500F, but I’ve also baked it solely at 450F or even 550F. The higher the temperature, the sooner the outside will brown and form a crust, meaning a crispier outside will maintaining a moist inside. At 450F, the focaccia may not be as crispy, but will have a moister inside.
Fermentation Time: As mentioned above, the dough can be fermented up to 72 hours. The longer the ferment, the more yeast-like your dough will taste.
Liquids: I’ve successfully subbed apple cider and other liquids for some of the water, yielding a moist interior and a slight sweetness. Play around with: hard cider, beer, wine — the sky is the limit! I recommend subbing 20% – 50% of the water.
Toppings: Red onion, garlic, woody herbs like rosemary, grapes, chilies, cheese, za’atar spice, and/or tomatoes. Keep in mind that at a high baking temperature, some ingredients (like garlic) can burn depending on what you’re using. I find that a pre-cooked soft, garlic confit or roasted garlic is less likely to have this issue.
Pan Shape/Size: You can bake the focaccia in a 9×13 pan for a thicker bread or an 18×12 for a thinner, sandwich-style one (but scale the recipe 20% if so). I’ve also used cake pans and cast iron pans.