Focaccia Bread with Rosemary

Have you ever made your own focaccia bread? I’m not much of a yeast-bread baker, but I’ve been curious about this Italian bread for years. We use it often for sandwiches; it’s filled with the flavor of olive oil, soft and sturdy at the same time, and dimpled all over. Well, if you too have been curious about making focaccia, I’m here to strongly suggest that you try it! Hank taught me how to make it and believe me, this bread is seriously good. Yes, it takes the good part of the day to make (but most of that time goes to just waiting for the dough to rise, thrice). And if you’re lazy like me, or with embarrassingly out-of-shape biceps (also like me), you can easily mix and knead the whole thing in an electric mixer. So it’s easy. No excuses kimosabe. This bread is so good that even though the recipe makes enough for a platoon, I’m pretty sure I could eat the whole thing. I literally had to force myself to give much of the last batch away, to parents, neighbors, anyone within reach with an appetite. Purely selfish motives that was, to save myself from an embarrassing chat with the scale.

Focaccia Bread with Rosemary Recipe

  • Yield: Makes a large loaf and a small loaf of 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick.

This recipe makes enough for 2 good-sized loaves. Or you can do what we've done, which is take 2/3 of the dough and bake it in a 9x15-inch baking pan, and the remaining third of the dough free-form on a baking sheet. You can make it all in free-form loaves that look like puffy pizzas, or shape them into casseroles or cake pans – there are no absolutes on the shape of this bread. The bread takes on the flavor of the olive oil so use a good quality one. Like most breads, this focaccia freezes well. You can also slice several day old focaccia bread and toast it, serving it with butter and/or honey.

Ingredients

  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup warm water, about 100 degrees
  • 2 1/4 cups tepid water
  • 2 Tbsp good quality olive oil, plus more for the pan and to paint on top of the bread
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp salt, plus coarse salt (fleur de sel if you have it, otherwise Kosher salt) for sprinkling over the top
  • 2-3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary (can use sage or other herbs such as thyme or oregano, but whatever herb you use, do use fresh herbs, do not use dried)

Method

1 Stir the yeast into the 1/3 cup of slightly warm-to-the-touch water and let it rest for 10 minutes.

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2 In a large bowl, pour in 2 1/4 cups of tepid water and 2 tablespoons olive oil. After the yeast has rested for 10 minutes and has begun to froth, pour it into the water-oil mixture.

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3 Whisk in 2 cups of flour (either the bread flour or the all purpose, at this stage it doesn't matter which) and the tablespoon of salt. Add the rosemary. Then, cup by cup, whisk in the rest of the flour (both the bread flour and all purpose). As the mixture goes from a batter to a thick dough, you'll want to switch from a whisk to a wooden spoon. By the time you get to the last cup of flour, you will be able to work the dough with your hands. Begin to knead it in the bowl – try to incorporate all the flour stuck to the sides and bottom of the bowl as you begin kneading.

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Once the bowl is pretty clean, turn the dough out onto a board and knead it well for 8 minutes. You might need some extra flour if the dough is sticky.

Note that a KitchenAid mixer (or some other brand of upright electric mixer) works well for the mixing and kneading of the bread dough. About the time you add the last cup of flour you'll want to switch from the standard mixer attachment to the dough hook attachment. Just knead the dough using the dough hook on low speed for 8 minutes. If after a few minutes the dough is still a little sticky, add a little sprinkling of flour to it.

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4 In a large clean bowl, pour in about a tablespoon of oil and put the dough on top of it. Spread the oil all over the dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to rise (in a relatively warm spot or at room temp) for an hour and a half. It should just about double in size.

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5 Spread a little olive oil in your baking pan or baking sheet (will make it easier to remove the bread). Place the dough in your baking pans or form it into free-form rounds on a baking sheet. This recipe will do two nice-sized loaves or one big one and a little one. Cover the breads and set aside for another 30 minutes.

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6 Dimple the breads with your thumb. Push in to about the end of your thumbnail, roughly 1/2-inch. Cover again and leave it to rise for its final rise, about 2 hours.

7 With 30 minutes to go before the rise finishes, preheat your oven to 400°F. If you have a pizza stone put it in.

8 Once the dough has done its final rise, gently paint the top with olive oil – as much as you want. Then sprinkle the coarse salt on top from about a foot over the bread; this lets the salt spread out better on its way down and helps reduce clumps of salt.

9 Put the bread in the oven. If you are doing free-form breads, put it right on the pizza stone. Bake for a total of 20-25 minutes. If you have a water spritzer bottle, spritz a little water in the oven right before you put the bread in to create steam, and then a couple of times while the bread is baking.

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When the bread comes out of the oven, turn it out onto a rack within 3-5 minutes; this way you'll keep the bottom of the bread crispy. Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes before eating.

Recipe adapted from The Italian Baker by Carol Field.


Links:

Potato focaccia from Luisa, the Wednesday Chef
Gluten-free tomato garlic focaccia from Karina the Gluten-free Goddess

40 Comments

  1. Lee

    Is there anything better than warm rosemary focaccia dipped in good olive oil? Soooo satisfying that I’ll even be patient enough to make it!

  2. Susan

    You’re right, good Focaccia can be too great a temptation for a dieter, especially if there are leftovers! Although, if you can resist and it’s thick enough, it’s great for splitting to use for sandwiches later. I like to let dough to rise overnight in the frigerator (or at cool room temp) after the first rise; It lends a more complex flavor. This dough is good for pizza, too.

  3. Kathy - Panini Happy

    Yes! I have been meaning to try baking a focaccia now that I’ve become a bit more comfortable with yeast bread baking. It’s ideal for panini, plus I love just dipping it in good olive oil.

  4. christine

    In Florence Italy, focaccia (which they call “scacciatta”) is the quintessential morning snack for school children. Small neighborhood bakeries have lines of children streaming out–paper wrapped hunks of fresh bread in hand. Yum!

  5. Katherine

    I make focaccia a lot using a recipe from Cuisine at Home October 2006 issue / it is easy / they also have the focaccia with grapes that Kevin mentions above

  6. sylviane santi

    I have my dough in the Bread machine and looks pretty good, my recipe is similar.
    We usually put rosemary on top and coarse salt.
    We love it cut in half with real Italian Mortadella (bologna) try it.

  7. agnespterry

    I LOVE Focaccia bread. My recipe is slightly different (I have it memorized by now) but it’s an old family recipe from my father’s side of the family–who are Italian– that we use also for pizza crusts and calzone. With the pizza recipe, you can skip the extra rising if you like and have a pizza ready to eat in about 30-40 minutes after you roll it out and slap on some ingredients. It’s thinner, but no less delicious.

    Our recipe: 1 c. water, 1 packet yeast, 1 T oil/butter, 2 c. flour, 1 t sugar, 1 t salt. Mix everything together. Let rise 30 minutes (or skip, if you are in a hurry) put on toppings, and bake for 350 for 20 minutes.

    One bowl cleanup if you do it right, and you can roll out the dough on a sturdy flat pan instead of the counter to save on cleanup too.

  8. Liza (Jersey Cook)

    I am so excited to get started on this! Do you think it’ll work with fresh basil? Or will the heat kill the flavor?

    Great question. I think I would serve it with freshly sliced basil sprinkled on top. If you do try cooking with it, please let us know how it turns out. ~Elise

  9. Dara

    In my early twenties, I backpacked through Europe for several months. One of the stops was a little pensione in the Tuscan countryside where the grandmother taught me to make focaccia that was very similar to this. You brought back a wonderful memory for me!

  10. Dax Phillips

    Great job, and good timing when I read your post. I was actually thinking of summer time and some of my favorite meals. One being a great sandwich either with ciabatta or focaccia, and as I was water my garden, I remembered I forgot the rosemary, of which is my favorite herb to use in breads, or on red meat. I must give this one a shot.

  11. tasteofbeirut

    in the lebanese kitchen we eat a type of focaccia with zaatar every morning, that we buy from the neighborhood baker; but I live in Dallas at the moment and I do crave it; so I think I will be trying your method and sprinkling zaatar on top! Thanks so much.

  12. Zipi

    How many grams of dry yeast is in one package?
    Here we buy dry yeast in half a kilo packages.

    Great question. 21 grams. ~Elise

  13. Tom

    Macaroni grill serves something close to this called peasants bread which got me hooked on rosemary focaccia bread dipping it in EVOO & Grated cheese it’s do addicting. One of the first things I did when I got to Italy was walk in a bakery & sample some of their goodies. Nothing like warm rosemary focaccia bread interlaced with black olives, grapes & onions with a dash of salt. It was hard to resist not opening the bag as it smelled like heaven. Don’t know how many lunches I had with this bread it’s a keeper comfort food.

  14. Katrina

    Looks delicious. I’m going to make it with just whole wheat flour because it’s all I have. Hope it turns out :)

  15. Kjirsten

    I love Focaccia bread. I like to really fill mine with herbs, using fresh rosemary, thyme, and if I have it, chives. Then, of course some minced garlic. I put garlic in just about everything. :P

    I also really enjoy it plain, and when it comes out of the oven, I brush it with olive oil, and sprinkle coarse salt over the top.

    For me, the key is to really put a lot of good olive oil in the bottom of the pan when I grease it, because it just gives it this most wonderful crust on the bottom. My bread ends up perhaps a bit expensive to make, what with all of the olive oil I use, and then the fact that I like really good olive oil, but it’s worth it in the end.

  16. dan

    Hi. Here’s one small tip to this foccacia thing: if you mix the olive oil with a little water before spreading it on the dough, the water will settle in the bottom of the dimples and they will remain whiter. It makes the foccacia look nicer.

  17. Gez Quinn

    The first focaccia I tasted was a tomato-based one – it was so rich and flavoursome with a quite an soft, oily texture. Any ideas how I could recreate it – I’m thinking along the lines of sun-dried tomatoes/tomato puree maybe?

    Love your site by the way.

  18. Anna

    I need to take a break from sweets and may give this a try — especially since we’re on a pasta kick and we do have some awesome olive oil from Tuscany.

    So far, the best focaccia bread I ever made was the copy cat recipe from Macaroni Grill. I’m not sure it’s the greatest recipe, but I liked it a lot at the time. It calls for semolina flour.

    The book Small Batch Baking has one that’s pretty good as well, though it comes out different every time I make it!

  19. Sheila

    Followed the recipe exactly – easy, easy. The results are fantastic and elevated a simple BLT into something wonderful (split the bread and toasted). Now, let’s see . . . for the rest of it . . . quick pizza . . . salad croutons . . . thanks much!

  20. Lacey

    I LOVE foccaccia but I’ve never had the guts to try and make it. Actually, I’m a complete bread novice, still the photos make it look so yummy I might have to try it when I have a day off of work.

  21. Cheryl

    Hi Elise,
    Just wanted to say I tried making your focaccia bread, and it was delicious. I thought the rosemary flavor was absolutely spot on. Mine didn’t come out the beautiful color yours did (you can see pictures on my link), but I’m sure I’ll be making this bread many, many times in the future. Thanks for a keeper.

    Great, so glad you liked it! ~Elise

  22. PiquantMolly

    Made this today! Delicious — crispy outside, soft and chewy inside. Like Cheryl above, my bread was not the lovely light brown color yours was after 25 minutes — I had to leave mine in the oven an extra 7 minutes before it got to that color. It did the trick, however, and turned out great.

  23. Sarah

    I made this yesterday and it was fantastic. I especially loved the texture of the bottom crust, and also that it wasn’t too oily like a lot of focaccia breads you find in restaurants and grocery stores. The recipe made two giant loaves; froze one and devoured the other. Will definitely make this again, for eating plain, making sandwiches, and for pizza crust. Thanks so much!

  24. ruen

    I’ve made a few sourdoughs before but never focaccia–when I saw this recipe, I just knew I had to try it out, and immediately! I thought we had some fresh basil laying around, but I couldn’t find anyway so I went with green onions instead. The result was nothing short of fantastic; I just had 2 little slices and I’m itching to break off another hunk to chew on. Pretty sure my dad and I will finish off the loaf tonight; it’s a good thing I thought ahead and only baked half of the dough else I’ll be needing to tack on another hour to my run. Thanks for sharing this recipe with us!

  25. Sarah

    I know you say in the recipe not to use dried herbs….just wondering why.

    Dried rosemary will cook up too dry and stick-like. So it’s better to use fresh if you have it. ~Elise

  26. ruen

    Elise, just letting you know that due to popular demand, I have just made this bread again–this time for sandwiches. Over here in China, getting any bread that isn’t soft and fluffy is impossible unless you make it yourself. My entire family was so happy to finally be able to make paninis again. Thanks again for sharing this with us!

  27. Steph

    I made this the other night and am ADDICTED. I didn’t let my first loaf rise for the last 2 hours because (and yes, broke the first rule of cooking) I didn’t realize it had another 2 hours to go and I was hungry, and it still turned out incredible! I haven’t tried the second loaf that I allowed to rise those last 2 hours, but if it’s any better than the first I’ll be in serious trouble.

    Thanks for a great recipe!

  28. Grandpa John

    My question is, Can the dough be frozen and if so, at what stage. Thanks.

    I haven’t tried freezing the dough, but I’m guessing that you can, and the best stage to do that would be after kneading in step 3. ~Elise

  29. Sarah

    I made this today and man alive is it good! I added some fresh basil as well as rosemary, but not much, and it tastes great! The texture of this bread is my favorite part. Soft on the inside and crusty on the outside…perfect! It’s really good with freshly chopped garlic and olive oil slathered on a nice thick slice. The recipe was simple and easy to follow and I had no troubles or issues at all. I used my Pyrex casserole dish and my Pyrex pie dish to make the loaves but next time I think I’ll do free form on the oven stone instead of the casserole dish just because I like the circular shape better. Thanks for another keeper!

  30. Abby

    Great recipe! This was a huge hit with my family. Kneading the rosemary into the bread makes a huge difference. I tried a different recipe that only added the rosemary mixed in with the olive oil and it didn’t have nearly the flavor.

    The only suggestion I would have is to start with a pre-ferment. Basically, knead water, pinch of yeast (can use instant) and some flour into a loose ball. Cover and sit 1 hour at room temp. Put in the fridge for up to 2 days. Bring to room temp, knead in the rest of the ingredients and follow the recipe.It adds more time, but makes for an incredible texture (though by no means does this recipe NEED improvement). Thanks, Elise!

  31. Becky

    Elise,

    I’m just about to put this in the oven, and so far I’ve enjoyed great success with one of my first forays into yeast bread. Everything has gone swimmingly (dough rose beautifully–of course, it hit 90 today and I haven’t turned the A/C on yet!!!). One question–if I am baking the bread in the pan, is the pizza stone necessary? The wording on that part is a little confusing, but I can’t figure out a reason that one would need it. Thanks.

    The pizza stone is entirely optional. If you have one, putting one in the oven for this recipe will help create an even temperature in the oven, whether you put the bread on the stone or not. ~Elise

  32. Becky

    Ugh–I ruined it. Tasted OUT OF THIS WORLD when it came out of the oven. I let it cool completely and then wrapped it tightly, one for me and one for a friend. It still tasted good this morning but the crust has lost its crispy integrity and the salt… did something? Please share – how does one store focaccia, even for a day?

    Not sure about the salt, but the crust definitely will soften overnight if you wrap the bread tightly. I always just put bread in a paper bag to store for a day or so: sure, it will get stale faster, but the crust stays crunchy. ~Hank

  33. Becky

    Live and learn. I made panzanella out of the leftover wrapped-too-tightly bread. Yummy!

  34. NinBeijing

    Hi Elise, I have had great success with your brownie recipe and oatmeal cookie recipe. To the point where I don’t even bat an eye at other recipes.

    I want to make this for a get together this weekend but I’m a bit unsure about the yeast. Are you using the 1/4 oz active dry yeast packets?

    Much love from China!

    Yes. ~Elise

  35. Beth

    I’m unclear on how thick the dough should be in/on the pan – do I roll it out an inch thick and let it rise? Two inches? Half an inch?

    Oh, I would say about an inch or an inch and a half. ~Elise

  36. Jocelyn

    Can you use bread flour for this recipe?

    I don’t see why not. ~Elise

  37. ruen

    Elise, I’ve made this recipe so many times and in so many different countries, and every one that’s tasted it has demanded I make it whenever I’m in town. I actually just made another batch, but while getting all the ingredients ready, I noticed some yeast packet amount discrepancies: I hold in my hands, right now, 2 packets of yeast from 2 different countries. The one I bought from the US says it’s 1/4oz (7g). The one I acquired in Taiwan says it’s 20g +/-1.5g (so ~21.5g). They both hold the correct amount of yeast needed to make this recipe, despite the fact that their weights do not add up sensibly (what I mean is that it is NOT a 1:3 Taiwan:US ratio; you don’t use 3 packets of US yeast to make it add up to 21g, nor do you use 1/3 packet Taiwan yeast to make it 1/4oz). I actually have experimented with this to make sure, and tripling the amount of US yeast is indeed waaaaay too much yeast, and using only 1/3 the amount of Taiwan yeast is definitely not enough. There is probably a good explanation for this discrepancy in amounts, but darned if I know what that is. All I’m saying is, just be aware that if you’re using yeast packets, 1 packet is the correct amount.

    *NB: when I say “Taiwan yeast”, you can probably assume that other countries aside from the US will also use the 21g yeast packets. So I guess if you use a packet from the US, you want 1/4oz(7g), and if it’s from anywhere else, then you want 21g. I hope that makes sense!

  38. Lauren

    My bread is currently rising (for the first time) and I’m super excited about how this will turn out. I’ve been wanting to make this for awhile and after coming across your recipe I had to try it. I have a sandwich blog and will definitely link to this recipe. I can’t believe how easy it is — I’ve always been a little nervous about making bread. Thanks!

  39. Hanne matter

    Can I made my focaccia dough ready, go to the airport for about 2-3hours and then come back and put it in the oven, thanks

    • Elise

      So you mean can you let your dough sit and rise for 2 to 3 hours instead of 1 1/2 hours as the recipe calls for? I don’t see why not.

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