This Foolproof Rosemary Focaccia Is a Perfect Snow Day Project
When it is particularly cold, rainy, or otherwise unpleasant out, one of the best places to be is inside the kitchen, where the oven will ensure that at least a small spot in your house is warm and snacks are close in reach. Maybe it's the cold snap that is plunging much of the country into Arctic temperatures, or that episode of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat where Chef Samin Nosrat lovingly drizzles olive oil all over her meal, but last weekend, many of my friends decided to make focaccia. It makes sense: As far as breads go, focaccia is relatively uncomplicated, yields an impressive amount, and makes for perfect crispy-on-the-outside pillowy-on-the-inside fancy sandwich bread, or an excellent side to dunk in soups or stews.
If you want to make authentic Ligurian focaccia a la Samin Nosrat, it'll take you at least a day to let the dough rise and ferment. I'm sure that stuff is delicious, but I was hoping to make focaccia from start to finish in a matter of hours, not days, so I could enjoy it later on for dinner. And since I have barely any counter space, I was hoping for a recipe where the majority of the kneading can be done in the bowl of a stand mixer so I can avoid having a light film of flour on every kitchen tool I own. Enter this no-frills recipe for rosemary focaccia from Whitney Miller at Southern Living, which had all the things I was hoping for—foccaccia that takes just about half an hour of hands-on time and three hours from start to finish, made mostly in a stand-mixer, with the delicious, traditional taste of rosemary infused into the bread. It was easy, mostly hands-off, and tasted like a total dream right out of the oven. It was one of those breads where you almost burn yourself trying to taste it, that's how alluring the warm smell of olive oil-drizzled bread right out of the oven is.
WATCH: How to Make Pickle Focaccia
The nice part about focaccia is that it's fairly flexible. Though MIller calls for a jelly roll pan here for a slightly thicker loaf, you can just as easily spread the dough out over a sheet pan. The recipe calls for you to let the dough rise twice, once in an oiled ball, and once, again, when you spread it out over your jelly roll or sheet pan. If you wanted to slow down that process—if you have to pop out for a bit, or even if you started making the focaccia in the morning and want to finish it for dinner that night, you can just put it in the refrigerator where the dough will rise more slowly. When you're ready to use the dough, just let it come back to room temperature and puff up again.
The only problem I ran into making this recipe is that focaccia dough does not want to let you spread it out evenly on a sheet pan. That's ok! Stretch it out as best you can—dimples and divots in the dough are perfectly fine in this application—and let it rest for five to ten minutes, then come back and stretch it out again, and eventually it should comply. But don't worry too much about the dough looking perfect—dimples in focaccia look nice, and provide nice crevices for the olive oil to settle into. Miller calls for kosher salt to sprinkle over the focaccia, but I couldn't help myself from using the flakey sea salt. Either work, as long as you make sure not to have too heavy of a hand. After the dough has risen a second time in the sheet pan and you drizzle it with olive oil, a pinch of salt, and more rosemary, it only takes about 15 minutes to bake all the way through, just until the top and bottom are light brown. It's perfect for a cold day, a Sunday afternoon, or a weeknight if you have enough time to wait for it to rise. And you can use the leftovers—if there are any—to sandwich roasted vegetables, deli meat, or even just a fried egg. Once you have the basic focaccia recipe down, you can branch out to pickle focaccia or orange fennel focaccia or whatever other non-traditional but very delicious flavor combination you'd like.