Speed and flavor combine Wonder Twins-style in this version of thin and crispy Ligurian focaccia bread that you can whip out of the oven 2 hours after you first think about making it.
Focaccia is one of my favorite bread types of all time. And Ligurian focaccia, with its unique saltwater brine (!!!) and thin, crispy texture, is one of my favorite easy snacking breads. Perfect for slicing into slabs or breadsticks for dipping in my best tomato and herb olive oil bread dip!
It's also a great recipe for beginner bakers, as there's no complicated kneading or shaping required! And if you end up with leftover focaccia, you can always turn it into these crunchy homemade focaccia croutons!
About This Recipe
When I first got into bread making, I mostly used King Arthur Baking Company's trusty "No-Fuss Focaccia" recipe. It's an exceptional beginner focaccia recipe. Anything with a long rise time can feel super intimidating to a beginner, and a lot of focaccia recipes require a long overnight rise.
No-Fuss Focaccia recipe is so quick and easy that I once whipped one up at 8 p.m. on a weeknight, when Jimmy suddenly remembered that he had promised to contribute to a teacher's meeting the following morning.
So I didn't think I needed another focaccia recipe in my life. But then...oh, but then.
UPDATE 12/2021 — Hi, it's present day Rebecca here to laugh at past Rebecca for thinking I didn't need another focaccia recipe in my life. I have since published several more focaccia recipes including a thick overnight focaccia recipe, a cheesy onion and pepper focaccia recipe, and a small batch mini focaccia recipe that uses just one cup of flour.
Enter Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat on Netflix. In the "Fat" episode, host and chef Samin Nosrat visits Liguria, Italy and learns how to make a gorgeous, perfectly golden brown dimpled Ligurian Focaccia, a regional variation of the Italian bread.
I have never drooled so hard at a TV show. The secret to this unique thin-and-crispy Ligurian focaccia was a long, slow rise, and a saltwater brine poured over the dough during its final rise. I gave it a try and fell in love with that focaccia too.
Where No-Fuss Focaccia takes just two hours to make and produces a thicker, plusher focaccia baked in a deep rectangular 9x13" baking dish, Ligurian focaccia requires a long overnight rise and is stretched thinner and dimpled on a metal baking sheet.
Both are relatively simple versions of focaccia bread, and there are reasons to use either one — depending on how much time you have, what kind of pan you want to use, how much bread you want to make, or what techniques you want to try.
Introducing No Fuss Ligurian Focaccia
As much as I loved the more intense flavor and thin and crispy texture of Ligurian focaccia and the ease and speed of King Arthur's thick, fluffy no-fuss focaccia, I couldn't help but want the best of both worlds.
I wanted to take the things I love about each recipe and combine them, Wonder Twins-style, into a new super-powered focaccia bread.
So that's what I did.
I took the speediness of the No-Fuss Focaccia and combined it with the thin, crispy texture and saltwater brine of Ligurian Focaccia to create a focaccia that's somewhere between the two, flavor wise.
The best part? It clocks in at just around 2 hours start to finish. And it's SO easy to make.
Here are all the ingredients you'll need to make this speedy Ligurian focaccia. See recipe card (at the end of the blog post) for ingredient quantities.
- Flour: Regular all purpose flour is just fine here! You could also use bread flour for a slightly chewier texture.
- Salt: I use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt which half as salty as other brands. If measuring by weight, it doesn't matter what brand of salt you use. But if you're measuring by volume and using a different brand of salt, even a different brand of kosher salt, cut the amount of salt in half.
- Water: Warm water. Not cold, not lukewarm, but not hot hot either. You're aiming for around 90F.
- Yeast: Instant yeast, also sometimes called "rapid rise" or "bread machine" yeast.
- Olive Oil: Any olive oil you like will work but having tried several varieties in my test baking, I recommend sticking with a mild flavored variety. Olive oils with too robust a flavor is overpowering and leaves a bitter aftertaste.
- Honey: Honey provides the sugars necessary for the yeast to eat and for the dough to brown. It's a fairly small amount so while I do recommend using honey from a reputable company, you're not really going to taste the honey here.
- Non-Stick Spray: This will help the dough release from the pan.
- Flaky Salt: For finishing! I love Maldon's Flaky Sea Salt, but you do you.
How to Make Ligurian Focaccia - Fast!
As far as bread recipes go, you'd be hard pressed to find anything that comes together faster than this.
Measure all the ingredients directly into the mixer bowl using a kitchen scale, and beat them together on medium speed with the paddle attachment for 60 seconds. That's it! That's the whole thing!
You'll also want to make your saltwater brine and set it aside for later. Even though you don't need to use it for over an hour, this will help ensure the salt has time to fully dissolve.
Mix the dry ingredients together, then make a well in the center. Pour in the warm water, olive oil, and honey.
Focaccia dough is loose by design — you're looking for something very sticky but also easy to scrape off the paddle with a bowl scraper.
Pro-Tip: Start the mixer on low, gradually increasing the speed as the water absorbs into the flour. This will happen fairly quickly, about 20 seconds. Once you're not at risk of flour clouds spraying everywhere, bump the speed to medium. Start the 60 second timer once it reaches medium speed.
Set the dough aside for a moment while you double grease an 18x13" sheet pan. Spray it with non-stick spray, then drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil across the surface.
This is a tip straight from the original No-Fuss Focaccia recipe — the non-stick spray prevents sticking. But the added olive oil makes the bottom of the focaccia extra crispy.
Use a plastic bowl scraper to scrape the sticky dough out of the bowl and into the center of the sheet pan.
When you first scrape the dough into your sheet pan, you might start to worry you haven't made enough dough or that something has gone horribly wrong.
Have no fear! This is normal.
The dough is going to rest for another hour at this point, during which it has plenty of time to relax into the pan.
Coat your fingers in a bit of oil and gently push, prod, and stretch the dough out, just to encourage it to continue moving in the same direction as it rises.
You aren't trying to get it to fill the pan, and you're not dimpling it yet, just running flat, closed fingertips over the surface to loosely stretch it.
Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let it rest for an hour. This resting period gives the gluten network time to develop as it and relaxed into the pan.
When you come back at the end of the hour, the dough should be a little bit puffy and have filled out the pan a bit more.
It may not reach all the way into the edges, that's just fine.
Drizzle a little more olive oil over the top of the dough, coat your fingers in even more olive oil, and then pressthe pads of your fingers into the dough, spreading them out when they hit the pan.
If there are any thin spots in the dough or corners the dough hasn't reached yet, dimpling is the time to forcefully push the dough into those areas.
Pinch it together to patch thin spots, and push it outwards into the corners of the pan if it hasn't gotten to them yet. Don't worry if the dough tears a little, it will be just fine.
The Saltwater Brine
Once the dough is suitably dimpled, you guessed it, drizzle with more olive oil. Then pour the saltwater brine evenly over the dough.
The oil will rise to the top, if you need to tilt the pan at all to try to get an even dispersement of oil across the dimples, go for it.
What does the saltwater brine do for a Ligurian focaccia?
"In the case of the Ligurian focaccia, the brine acts as a protective layer for the top of the focaccia, limiting its browning potential in the first part of cooking. Once all the water has evaporated, only the oil is left, and browning takes place - in some cases, the focaccia won’t brown at all in certain areas; the bread is almost poached in a salt water. SO. GOOD."Nicola Lamb, Kitchen Projects #85 Ligurian Focaccia
For the final thirty minute rise, cover the dough and let it rest on top of or near your preheating oven. Moving the pan to a very warm spot for this final rise encourages the yeast to get to work. This will help the dough rise as much as possible before it bakes.
Don't poke or handle the dough once the brine goes on — it's quite a bit of water and you don't want it to begin dissolving the flour and breaking up the starches in the in the dough.
At the end of the final rise, the foccacia will be noticeably puffy and the dimples will have closed slightly. The dough may be barely reaching the top edge of the sheet pan, but won't have risen above it.
Traditionally Ligurian focaccia has deeply dimpled fingertip-sized pockets across the surface of the dough even after baking. In this version, the dimples will close up into deliciously salty fissures running through the bread.
Adding Toppings (Optional)
In addition to the saltwater brine, I do recommend a generous sprinkle of flaky sea salt right before baking. The saltwater brine adds flavor but isn't overly salty.
Sprinkle the flaky salt on top until right before you put the focaccia in the oven so the salt holds its crystal shape and doesn't dissolve into the already salty brine.
You can also get pretty creative with your Ligurian focaccia toppings! With it's flat texture, this is a great focaccia for making focaccia gardens, and focaccia artwork.
If you're topping the focaccia with anything heavy or dense like cherry tomatoes, garlic cloves, onions, olives, or peppers, you'll want to place them during the dimpling and brining stage, before the final rise. This way the dough will rise around them and hold them in place as they bake.
To get a nice crispy exterior with soft center, Ligurian focaccia bakes at a high temp for a short amount of time. About 20-25 minutes at 450°F, rotating the pan halfway through should be just right.
As soon as it comes out of the oven, drizzle with more olive oil and let it soak in. Let the focaccia cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then slide a spatula underneath to release any stuck bits from the pan.
Slide the focaccia out of the pan and onto a cooling rack to finish cooling. Letting air circulate as it cools prevents it from getting soggy in the pan!
Because focaccia is so salty, it's best enjoyed same-day. The salt draws moisture out of the dough which causes focaccia to dry out fairly quickly.
If you do need to store focaccia, an airtight container like a large plastic bag works well. It will stay good for maybe two days. By day 3 it will be noticeably drier and significantly staler.
The good news? Day-old focaccia is perfect for making homemade croutons!
Nope! Without the brine you'll end up with a darker focaccia, so just keep an eye on it — it may be done a few minutes early.
Unfortunately, no. If you don't have a stand mixer, I recommend using a traditional Ligurian focaccia recipe with a long overnight rise.
A kitchen scale is more accurate than cup measurements and will give you the right ratio of water, yeast, salt, and flour so that your focaccia dough behaves the way you want it to. I tested and developed this recipe using weight measurements. If I were to convert it to cups, I would be using Google — just like you would. And I wouldn't be able to promise you'd get the same delicious results!
Absolutely! Bake it in a 9x13" rectangular cake pan. You may need to adjust the bake time slightly.
2 Hour Ligurian Focaccia - Thin & Crispy!
- Spray an 18x13" sheet pan with cooking spray, then drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil across the bottom. Tilt the pan to spread the oil around so it coats the entire tray.
- In a small bowl, prepare the saltwater brine by whisking the salt into the water until it dissolves. Set aside.
- Combine flour, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for about 30 seconds just to incorporate.
- Pour warm water (90°F), honey, and olive oil into the center of the dry ingredients. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds to hydrate the flour, then increase to medium speed and set a timer for 60 seconds. Let it do its thing. The dough will cling to the walls of the bowl as the beater whips it around.
- Scoop the sticky dough into the center of the prepared pan using a bowl scraper. Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil across the dough. Rub some oil on your fingers and use flat fingers and gentle pressure to start encouraging the dough to stretch outward in the pan as it rests. The dough will not fill out the pan yet. Cover the pan and rest for 1 hour.
- Preheat your oven to 450°F degrees, with a rack in the center position. Drizzle another tablespoon of olive oil across the surface of the dough. Coat your fingertips with oil and dimple the dough by pressing the pads of your fingers down, spreading them out when they hit the bottom of the pan. This is your chance to spread the dough into all the corners and edges of the pan.
- Drizzle another tablespoon olive oil over the surface of the dough. Pour the brine over the surface of the dough. Carefully tilt the pan if needed to help it spread out into the dimples. Cover and let rest on top of or near the preheating oven while the oven preheats for 30 minutes, or until the focaccia is noticeably puffy and the dimples have closed up slightly.
- Right before baking, sprinkle the surface with flaky salt or any other herbs and seasonings you like. Bake for 20-22 minutes at 450°F degrees until golden brown on top, rotating the pan halfway through. Drizzle immediately with one tablespoon olive oil after removing from the oven.
- Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to finish cooling. Focaccia is best enjoyed same-day or within 24 hours of baking.
- If you’re topping your focaccia with anything dense, like whole tomatoes, garlic cloves, peppers, etc. add them before the final 30 minute rise.