Focaccia five ways

Ah, focaccia!
While you bake I like to waccia.
I’m so glad I gaccia–
My dear focaccia…

OK, blame it on the upcoming long weekend: it’s got me feeling footloose and fancy-free already. What better way to celebrate summer than with an ode to my favorite flatbread, focaccia? Or, make that doggerel, rather than ode. Whatever. I just had to sing this simple bread’s praises.

“Simple?” Yes, simple. As in both “basic” and “easy.” Even if you’re not a dyed-in-the-wool bread-baker, you can make a great focaccia. After all, there’s no tricky shaping involved; no nerve-wracking wait for an ultra-high rise in a loaf pan. This friendly flatbread is content to rise just about an inch before it goes into the oven. And even if it deflates somewhere along the way, the only downside is bread that’s more chewy than airy.

If you think focaccia looks suspiciously like pizza, you’re right. The only difference between focaccia and thick-crust pizza, in my book, is that focaccia doesn’t have to carry the ungainly load of tomato sauce and melted cheese and pepperoni and all that other stuff we heap on pizza. Instead, focaccia is almost bare-naked, save for a minimalist’s sprinkle of dried rosemary and cracked pepper, or maybe some Italian herbs. And a drizzle of olive oil. A heavy drizzle. More on that later.

My most recent focaccia discovery involves its place in the pantheon of breakfast breads. I mean, who knew this simple, crusty bread could enclose golden raisins, don a coat of crunchy sugar, and become morning toast? Not I… till I thought outside the savory box. And now I’m a convert. Don’t like raisins? Stuff it with dried cranberries, or whatever dried fruit you DO like.

And then there’s cheese-stuffed focaccia. Instead of raisins inside—melting cheese. Herbs on top. Be still, my heart! Are you beginning to see why focaccia makes me break into song?

If you find yourself with some lazy down time this long weekend, consider a foray into focaccia. I guarantee, you’ll be singing its praises as loudly as I do.

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First, let’s make an overnight starter. This particular starter will look like a very thick batter or a very wet dough.

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Overnight, it’ll rise nicely.

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Mix it with the remaining dough ingredients.

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Here’s the dough as it’s just coming together.

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Seven minutes of kneading in a stand mixer turns it soft, silky, and sinuous; not overwhelmingly sticky, but nice and elastic.

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Put it in a covered container to rise for 1 hour.

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After 1 hour, deflate it, and let it rise again. Look how vigorous this second rise is! The dough has just about tripled in bulk from its original volume. That’s because the yeast has had that much longer to grow and reproduce.

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Lightly grease a half-sheet pan (18” x 13”, the baker’s best friend). Drizzle olive oil into the bottom of the pan. Greasing the pan will keep the bread from sticking; olive oil will give it a tasty bottom crust.

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Let the dough rise, covered, for 2 to 3 hours, until it gets REALLY billowy. It’s kind of problematic finding something to cover it with when it’s in this large a pan. I’ve been able to use some really big plastic covers from supermarket deli trays. You can also used well-greased plastic wrap—and I mean WELL-greased. You don’t want the wrap to stick to your risen dough.

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Dimple the dough with your fingers. Press down firmly, but gently. You don’t want to deflate the dough. It’ll settle a little bit, but shouldn’t look like a popped balloon.

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Spritz with warm water, then drizzle with more oil. That’s why you’ve dimpled the dough; so oil can collect in its pockets. Sprinkle with pizza seasoning, Italian herbs, rosemary and cracked black pepper, or your favorite dried herbs.

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Bake till golden brown. Remove from the pan, and cool on a rack…

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…then cut into squares to serve. Or just rip it apart, if you’re with friends.

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You can also make focaccia sticks. Once the loaf is cool—and especially if you’ve only eaten part of it, and the rest is getting a bit stale—cut it into 1/3” strips.

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Place the strips on an ungreased baking sheet, and drizzle or spray with olive oil. Yes, I like olive oil. A lot. Can you tell?

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Bake in a 325°F to 350°F oven till light golden brown and crisp. 10 minutes? 15 minutes? Somewhere in that range, probably. Pretty elegant, huh?

Next up: Sweet Breakfast Focaccia.

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Flatten the risen focaccia dough. Pile about 1 2/3 cups of raisins on top.

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Enfold the raisins as though you were making an envelope. Tuck them in so none are showing.

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Put the raisin-stuffed dough on a lightly greased half-sheet pan (no olive oil—fooled you!).

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Press to the edges of the pan as well as you can, without exposing too many of the raisins. Some will pop through; don’t stress about it. Let the dough rise, covered.

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Once it’s risen, dimple it, spritz it with warm water, and sprinkle with coarse sparkling sugar or Demerara sugar.

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Bake till golden brown; the sugar will partially melt, forming a crackly/crunchy topping.

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Cut in squares to serve. Toast briefly, for best flavor. I say briefly, because if you let it stay in the toaster too long the sugar melts and makes a mess. But then again, that’s what toaster bags are for.

OK, we’re not done yet: how about cheese-stuffed focaccia? Just knead 1 cup of crumbled feta cheese (or your favorite cheese) into the dough after it’s been through its initial rises, then pat it into the pan.

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Sprinkle a bit more feta on top. Bake, and enjoy hot, melty-cheesy focaccia. Oo-la-la!

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If you like, cut it in strips for dipping in olive oil (there it is again!).

And there you have it: focaccia five ways. Plain, sticks, breakfast, cheese-stuffed, and dipping strips.

Read, review, and rate (please!) our recipe for Focaccia.

Buy vs. Bake

Buy: Supermarket Rosemary Focaccia, 36¢/ounce

Bake at home: Rosemary-topped plain focaccia, 7¢/ounce.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Bridget

    OK, that is cracking us up! We’ve…well I’ve…been chanting your ode to focaccia all around the house. My husband thinks you need a song to the tune of “Baby Got Back”:

    “I like to bake bread, and I cannot lie,
    Sourdough, wheat or rye…”

    Love the breakfast focaccia idea!

    Remember “L.A. Woman”? A prospective ad agency once sent us a tape of L.A. Woman with the words all changed to be about baking. All I can remember now is “the dough is rising…. rising rising…” Funniest thing I ever heard. Actually, I’m glad I don’t know “Baby Got Back” because I’d be hearing it in my dreams all night, at this point! Thanks for sharing the hilarity of a pre-long weekend Sunday- PJH

    Reply
  2. HMB

    Seeing the raisin focaccia reminded me of an Italian deli (since closed) I used to frequent — besides focaccia with savory toppings they occasionally made a focaccia topped with halved seedless green grapes. The grapes and their sticky sweet juice would partially caramelize — ooh, it was yummy!

    Hey, check our recipe for Rosemary and Grape Focaccia at kingarthurflour.com – sounds like what you describe. And yes, the juices caramelize… – PJH

    Reply
  3. Nel

    Oh, gosh, YUM! Now why do I have to live alone, with best friends who are gluten intolerant? I never should have moved away from my old gluten-glutton pals. If this were the old days, I’d bake up that feta focaccia and my old favorite pesto and parmesan focaccia (smear pesto in the dimples; parmesan in the dough) and tomato and olive (thinly smear tomato paste on top, sprinkle with herbs and chopped black olives) and get out some wine and have me a focaccia party.

    Pesto in the dimples -GREAT idea. And olives. And tomato paste – hey, sounds like we’re going towards pizza again… always a temptation. : ) Nel, go for it anyway – bring it all to work (if you work?) and share. TX for the ideas- PJH

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  4. Sue

    My basil is at its peak and I was trying to find a way to use my homemade basil pesto in a recipe for my son & daughter-in-laws 4th of July party. Lo and behold I read your blog about the foccacia… know what I am doing early Friday morning. I will use the pesto and a local shredded 3-cheese mixture. Some people don’t like black olives so I will omit that. Gee, IDEA!! Maybe I’ll use 2 pans and make 2 versions.

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  5. Jana

    I have a question about the fociccia “sticks” are they similar to those long crispy bread sticks? I have a recipe for bacon wrapped bread sticks to make for the 4th. The hostess made a request, and the long kind are hard to find unbroken, these look like a subsutute. What do you think?

    Hi Jana,
    It would definitely be worth a try. The lovely bacon fat would be absorbed into the focaccia sticks making for some delicious decadent treats. Let us know how it works out!

    MaryJane @ The Baker’s Hotline

    Yeah, Jana, I think this would work well. If your focaccia is over 1″ tall, you might want to cut the strips, then carefully cut them in half lengthwise, to make them more the shape of those skinny bread sticks? With the width of these, I’m wondering how the bacon would wrap… You could also try our Thin ‘n’ Crunchy Italian Breadstick recipe at kingarthurflour.com. – PJH

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  6. chi mitchell

    YUM! I’ll need to try the breakfast focaccia. I am sure I will break out into your song and most likely even a jig for added measure speaking which, where can I buy the dough rising bucket in the picture? It looks larger than what King Arthur Flour carries. Is it?

    Thanks for all your GREAT recipes!

    Chi, it’s actually an 8-cup measuring cup. We’ll have them available for sale, online, in a couple of weeks. Just getting them in now, they’ll appear in our august catalogue… PJH

    Reply
  7. KG

    To proof large pans of dough I use the X large ziplock bags-by placing a stacking rack in side it keeps the bag from touching the dough or if you are doing doubles(which I’m usually doing) I place a couple of glasses on the rack to raise the top of the bag. Bag can be used over and over again-also can be sprayed for non-stick but store in freezer when not in use. My son tells everyone I’m doing science projects. Love the idea for turning the extra fociccia into the bread sticks. Thanks

    Excellent idea – thanks. You could also position a rack (maybe raised on books or something) over the dough, and drape with plastic wrap to make a little tent… – PJH

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  8. John

    Focaccia has always been for breakfast! When I lived in Nervi (a suburb to the east of Genoa) there was a marvelous bakery on the upper end of the Viale delle Palme that was famous for its wonderful focaccia. Trays and trays of the wonderful stuff cut into squares about three or four inches on a side and a couple of inches thick in the Genoese style with only salt and oil on top. It was always gone by ten o’clock in the morning. A large cup of caffe latte from the bar on the corner made a fantastic breakfast. Breakfast doesn’t have to contain sugar to be sweet.

    John, so right… Sweet has many meanings. I happily stand corrected! – PJH

    Reply
  9. Melissa

    We love focaccia in this house, usually use fresh rosemary, fresh garlic and kosher salt on top – YUM. My question is how do you keep it fresh? Even by the next morning it’s getting stale and losing it’s great chewy texture. Love the crispy bread sticks idea, but is there any way to keep it fresh?

    Yeast bread’s freshness is so fleeting… but responds to reheating! Best way I’ve found is store in a paper bag; and reheat briefly in the toaster before serving. – PJH

    Reply
  10. Flo Johnson

    I live at 7500 ft elevation. Tough to make bread. However my Pumpernickle I have perfected. I use the recipe on the back of the flour bag. I omit the Deli rye flavor and the onions. I add 2 TLBS of gluten and 2 TLBS of unsalted butter plus 2 TLBS of the Pumpernickel flavor. Of course EVERYTHING is King Arthur. Now I want to try this Focaccia recipe. Thank you again for your WONDERFUL products, and great customer help. Flo Johnson Walton Surprise Az and Fence Lake NM

    Thanks, Flo – for baking, for connecting with us, for using our products. The 167 employee-owners here at King Arthur appreciate your loyalty! – PJH

    Reply
  11. Jenn

    I am inspired by the breakfast foccacia idea. Has any one ever combined the raisins and maybe a farmer cheese for a cheesey breakfast bread? Maybe with almonds and cheese?

    Sounds good, Jenn – go for it! – PJH

    Reply
  12. Gianna

    Growing up, this kind focaccia was a standard at every family gathering. There would be trays of a standard olive oil and salt focaccia and trays of raisin studded, sugar topped kind. The rasin always went first so, you had to get it early. We make it with olive oil on top then rasins, sugar and a sprinkle of salt.

    Make it any time of the day and enjoy a true Italian tradition.

    Gianna- thanks for the suggestion – I LOVE the sugar/salt combo. Next time I’m trying that – PJH

    Reply
  13. Julia

    How high does the foccacia rise? Was thinking that inverting another half sheet pan on top might work as a cover.

    Julia, that should work – the dough bulges out over the sides a bit, but if you oil the other pan (sides and bottom), it should work… good idea! Thanks for sharing- PJH

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  14. Dianne

    Help! My starter doesn’t look wet like the first picture. Is 1/2 c. water to
    1 c. flour enough water to get the appearance of a wet dough? My starter looks ver dry.

    Dianne, you may have packed your flour down when you measured it. The way to measure is to fluff it up in the canister; sprinkle it into your measuring cup with a spoon or scoop; then use a table knife to sweep off the excess. This will give you about 4 1/4 ounces of flour, which is what we here at King Arthur use as our 1-cup weight. OR you may be using bread flour instead of all-purpose? And did you stir the starter and really work it around? Or maybe you live somewhere very dry…? Lots of possibilities! The starter can be dry, so long as it’s all come together, with no dry flour left in the bowl. Just add a bit more water if you need to, no big deal. Everything will be FINE, trust me. -PJH

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  15. Jana

    Very tasty, but I had timming problems I did not have enough time to rise 2-3 hours I had to leave and come back home, so it rose 5 hours. If I run out of time to last rise and bake can I stop the process by putting it in the fridge?

    Absolutely; putting yeast dough in the fridge to slow it down is always an option. How did it work out having risen 5 hours? Bet it developed lots of flavor, anyway… PJH

    Reply
  16. Lee

    Aha! My starter seemed fine but I was about to write that my dough was very dry and we kept adding water (about a third of a cup more?) and it’s still pretty stiff. Then I saw Dianne’s message and realized we used bread flour instead of all-purpose! We are in Nairobi at 5000ft so it’s a bit cool, maybe that also made a difference? In my bakery we have bread flour (about 12.5% protein) and what they call Pure Patent for cakes at about 10% protein. Maybe I’ll try the pure patent next time.

    Lee, I’ll bet it’s also pretty dry at 5000 feet. So you had a couple of factors pointing towards needing more liquid. I’d try a combination of bread flour and patent, maybe 2/3 bread to 1/3 patent – should work nicely. Good luck! -PJH

    Reply
  17. Jana

    The flavor was great with the 5 hour rise. It was only half and in thick so when it baked it was crispy and good. I am still working on a good batch for the bacon wrapped bread sticks. Thanks for the information.

    Reply
  18. Tom

    I just now took a cheese-stuffed focaccia out of the oven. It looks exactly like the picture posted here. Man, is that good! I made it today because I had a little feta in the fridge that needed to be used. I was expecting the focaccia to be good, but this is exceptional! I need to bake this one again, soon! How would it be with pepper-jack cheese? or maybe brie? I’m going right back into the kitchen to whip up another starter so that I can bake another one of these tomorrow.

    PJ – another winner! Thanks!

    Tom

    Tom, I won’t say it’s hard to go wrong with yeast bread… but maybe it’s easy to go right? I swear, anything with flour, water, yeast, salt, olive oil, and a bit of time comes out wonderfully well. I think any cheese would work with this, some, of course, becoming more melty than others (which is a GOOD thing… what’s not to like with melted cheese, right?) – Let us know how your tomorrow loaf turns out. Have fun- PJH

    Reply
  19. Marsha

    I made this for a double birthday party July 2nd. It was soooo good. Everyone, including me, couldn’t stop eating it and it was easy to make. I made the olive oil, fresh rosemary, tuscan sea salt blend kind. Can’t wait to make it again.

    Reply
  20. Lee

    Hi PJ, thanks for the tip on mixing the patent and bread flour, it worked like a dream! Maybe a little lighter than most foccacia I’ve had, but awesome. I made feta and rosemary-flavored (together). (Just a tip: I should have oiled the pan more as the feta stuck in some places.) One question: I found forming it into the pan was kind of difficult, did you knead the dough and then roll it out or something?
    This morning for breakfast I made a yummy toasted foccacia sandwich with brie and tomato confit.

    Hi Lee – Glad the flour combo worked. Did you grease the pan, AND oil it with olive oil as well? I just push the kneaded dough into the pan, no rolling it out. When it starts to shrink back, I walk away for 10-15 minutes, then push it some more… You do need patience. You’llalso figure out what method works best for YOU. Good luck – PJH

    Reply
  21. MikeLib

    Over 25 years ago I use to live in Greenwich Village, NY. For over 20 years, on Sunday I would go to one of the local Bakery to buy focaccia bread to have for breakfast. The bakery only sold the focaccia on Sunday because the rest of the week they were slicing the focaccia and toasting it. They sold it to all local restaurants and they called it Riviera Toast.

    One Sunday I went to bakery and there was a notice on the door that the IRS closed the bakery because they did not pay their Federal Tax. Bummer since then I have learned to make a good focaccia bread. I have the recipe down pat were the dough is mixed, knead and rises in a round 1 ½ gallon plastic container.
    My favorite topping is diced red onions, soaked in red wine vinegar, poppy seeds and olive oil. It makes a great Sunday breakfast.

    Interesting topping, Mike – with the vinegar. I’ll have to try that one next, thanks- PJH

    Reply
  22. Christian Carter

    I just finished mixing up the starter. I am so excited to hit up the farmers market for some grapes or cheese or something tomorrow, and make this bread when I get home from work. Thanks for this wonderful blog, and wonderful flour!

    You’re welcome, Christian, and good luck with your focaccia – sounds like it’ll be a winner. The one I make with grapes is unusual, but VERY good… Check it out at kingarthurflour.com – Rosemary & Grape Focaccia- PJH

    Reply
  23. Jessica

    TRY THAT GRAPE FOCACCIA! I’ve served it at a couple of birthday dinner parties, and people love it. There’s something about hot grapes that just gets to people.

    Reply
  24. Lynn Pelletier

    Thank you so much for this wonderful site – so generous of you to share all these fabulous recipes. I have spent the summer testing several -lol. Although I’ve made focaccia before, this version has become the family favorite. It’s awesome!!! I have two half-sheet pans (perforated) so I use one for the bread and set the other on top while it’s rising (top rim to top rim). It fits perfectly and there’s plenty of room to rise.

    Love the bread stick idea, but so far we haven’t had any left over to try it with!

    Reply
  25. Rona

    I absolutely love! all the suggestions on this site and your expertise is invaluable, I just wish I could get king Arthur products, they are not on sale in my country. But I just love this site,it’s just wonderful, many thank’s.

    Rona, you can always order our products online and have them shipped to you in Great Britain- :) PJH

    Reply
  26. Bob Biga

    I love that you used the proper word for the starter. As you can see that is my last name in Italian and Greek the other meaning is 2 horsed chariot. Actually there are 12 bakeries with the biga name throughout the country. I let my biga if you will rise in the refrigerator over night no longer than 12 hrs. once it has the final rise I section off 2×2 sections and bake. My grand sons call it “poppa’s big boy bread” I cut it in half and put ham and cheese on it, slather EVOO on both sides and give it a shot in the panini press. Even the adults go ga ga over it. I also make mine as a pizza. I”m 70 plus so its getting harder fir this old bird anymore. It”s usually on special occasions anymore. Good eating Bob Biga.

    Bob, thanks for upholding your good name all these years! Your family is lucky to have a bread-baker in their midst… – PJH

    Reply
  27. Margo

    I’ve stared at the amounts in this starter about ten times now. I used half a cup of water and a cup of flour, and I have a relatively dry dough lump – it’s obviously way too much flour, because it doesn’t look anything like I know the starter should look (and nothing like your picture). I promise I measured the flour right, and I’m in the middle of a rainstorm in Seattle, so a dry climate isn’t to blame. Are the amounts mixed up? Should it be a cup of water and half a cup of flour? Or equal parts flour and water?

    Hmmm… Margo, I don’t know what to tell you. Equal parts water and King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (by weight – 4 ounces water, 4 1/4 ounces KAF) will produce a relatively soft starter. Now granted, the one in the picture looks a bit stickier than normal, and I’m not sure the date of the post, but probably not the driest part of winter. Still… Did you weigh the flour? A cup of flour weighs 4 1/4 ounces. Were you using all-purpose, not bread flour? I’m flummoxed. Maybe your expectations are that your starter will match the photo exactly? It’s OK for the dough to be a bit stiffer, and it won’t make a bit of difference in the final bread. So long as you can work all of the flour into the water, you’re good. This does, however, bring up the larger question of measuring – when you go on to make the bread, a way stiffer dough than shown will produce different results. So when you make the focaccia, see if your measuring produces a dough that looks pretty much like the picture, OK? For more help, feel free to call our Baker’s Hotline: 802-649-3717. Good luck – PJH

    Reply
  28. Margo

    PJ, thanks for your comment. It convinced me to go ahead and make the dough to see what happens. I haven’t gotten a scale yet, but I fluffed the flour (all-purpose) and poured it into the measuring cup. I felt that the dough was too stiff, so I added about a tablespoon of water and ended up with a dough that felt pretty good. I’ll let you know how it turns out – thanks again for your help!

    Thataway, Margo – making adjustments along the way is a huge part of bread-baking, so kudos to you for winging it – and I’m betting the focaccia comes out just fine. Let us know, OK? PJH

    Reply
  29. ambassador

    I goggled Rivera Toast and came across this post by MikeLib back in July of 2008. I knew that bakery Zamperi’s on Cornigla st. OMG. We too found it locked up one day with the IRS post on the door. Ha, my family ran an upsacle Italian restaurant on eastern Long Island and we did servre Riviera Toast in the bread basket… I too learned to make focaccia and I too make the toast with the second day leftover bread. It was a revelation for me to realize thast the toast was infact focaccia. Thanks MikeLib for the memories. Oh, and yes. I do use King Aurthr Flour.

    Reply
  30. kgmom

    Any wisdom on how to incorporate some whole wheat flour in this recipe. I feel less guilty chowing down on bread if I can get some whole grain incorporated. I appreciate any input!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      If you want to experiment with whole wheat in this focaccia recipe, you might start by substituting whole wheat for 25% of the all-purpose flour. Whole wheat tends to absorb more liquid than all-purpose, and so you may want to use just a little more water.~Jaydl@KAF

    2. Susan Reid

      Foccaccias are pretty wet, and as such are great candidates for whole wheat flour. You can substitute 1/4 to 1/3 of the flour’s volume for the first try; the dough may need an extra tablespoon of water. It will be pretty slack at first but as it sits and the bran takes up the liquid it will behave more like a white flour. And yes, of course, you can use other dried fruits instead: apricots, cranberries, anything you like.

  31. kgmom

    Meant to ask another question on my previous post – is there any reason I can’t use other dried fruits, chopped, in place of the raisins?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      There is no reason why you can’t use another dried fruit in place of the raisins. ~Jaydl@KAF

  32. Al Wagner

    Should focaccia with cheese be refrigerated after baking for storage. Won’t the cheese or other toppings spoil if left at room temperature for an extended period?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      When in doubt, refrigerate and then refresh (or reheat) when you are ready for “fresh” focaccia. Happy Baking – Irene@KAF

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