Speed and flavor combine Wonder Twins-style in this easy focaccia bread recipe 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. Airy, oily, salty, crispy, chewy, excellent for dipping in and topping with infinite combinations of flavors. Did you know you can make focaccia pizza? You can make focaccia pizza. Just bask in that knowledge for a moment. It’s also great for beginner bread makers because it’s so easy to make.
I’ve been making focaccia for a couple years now, mostly using King Arthur Flour’s trusty “No-Fuss Focaccia” recipe. I love it for a lot of reasons, but mostly because it’s perfect for anyone who isn’t always great at planning ahead (hello!). This 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.
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. I have never drooled so hard at an episode of a TV show. The secret to a traditional focaccia was a long, slow rise, and a saltwater brine (!!!) poured over the dough during its final proofing. I had to give it a try.
the differences between ‘no-fuss’ and Ligurian focaccia
The main difference between these two recipes is the amount of time that goes into making them. No-Fuss Focaccia truly lives up to its name, while Ligurian Focaccia requires a little extra work and planning ahead, but produces a focaccia with undeniably more complex flavors. Both are easy 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.
King Arthur Flour‘s no-fuss focaccia
This is peak easy focaccia bread. You put all your ingredients in the bowl of your electric mixer, beat them at medium speed for 60 seconds, then pour the dough into a well-oiled 9×13″ pan (think a ceramic or glass rectangular casserole dish), cover it with more oil, let it rise for an hour, dimple the surface, and then bake it at 375F. It calls for 1 TBSP of instant/active dry yeast to speed up the rising process, and as a result, only takes 2 hours to make, start to finish.
The end result isn’t quite as flavorful as the Ligurian focaccia, but what it lacks in the flavor you get from letting let your dough rise slowly over time, it makes up for with some optional ingredients that make all the difference in a pinch: a few teaspoons of Pizza Dough Flavor, a 1/4 cup of Vermont Cheese Powder, and a sprinkle of Pizza Seasoning over the top before baking.
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat‘s Ligurian focaccia
This easy focaccia bread recipe requires a little bit more technical skill and time to plan ahead. You use a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients together in a large bowl to form a shaggy dough, let it rise 12-14 hours (overnight), then stretch it out a couple times over the course of half an hour, pour more oil and a saltwater brine (!!!) over it, let it rise again, and then bake it in a large half sheet tray on a baking stone in a 450F oven. It only uses 1/2 tsp of instant/active dry yeast, but the honey in the dough gives the yeast a boost so you still get a nice, pillowy rise.
It takes 14-17 hours to make, start to finish. Between the Ligurian Focaccia’s long initial rise time, the saltwater brine, and the layered application of olive oil, it is truly a flavor and textural superstar, no additional ingredients required.
introducing: no-fuss Ligurian focaccia
As much as I love both of those recipes, 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, yeah, that’s what I did.
I took the speediness of the No-Fuss Focaccia and combined it with the saltwater brine of the Ligurian Focaccia to create a finished focaccia that’s somewhere between the two, flavor-wise.
There’s less yeast than in the No-Fuss Recipe but more yeast than in the Ligurian one, but the addition of a little honey and completing the final proof on your stovetop above a preheating oven gives the yeast an oompf. I also increased the amount of flour and water overall to make enough dough to fill a sheet tray (which helps produce a crispier bottom!).
The best part? It still clocks in at just around 2 hours start to finish.
how to make no-fuss ligurian focaccia
Just like in the No-Fuss Focaccia, I wanted to keep the dough easy and fast. Simply measure all the ingredients out into your mixer bowl, 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 at this point and set it aside for later.
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.
When you first pour/scrape the dough into your double-greased pan, it’s going to look too small and you’re going to panic and worry you haven’t made enough and 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 we’ll stretch it a few times as it relaxes.
Pro-tip: Double-grease your sheet tray before you add the dough. First, spray it with PAM or another non-stick spray, then drizzle 1-2 TBSP of olive oil over the top. The spray prevents the dough from sticking. The olive oil makes the bottom crispy.
After transferring your dough to the pan, coat your fingers in a little 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 loosely stretching it.
Cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest for 10 minutes. Then, repeat the pushing, prodding, and stretching. At this point, it should reach the edges of the pan almost all the way around, but it’s OK if it still falls a bit short. Cover, and let it rest for another 20 minutes.
When you come back at the end of the 20 minutes, the dough should be a little bit puffy and have filled out the pan a bit more.
Drizzle a little more olive oil over the top of the dough, coat your fingers in even more olive oil, and then start pressing the pads of your fingers all the way into the dough, spreading them out when they hit the surface of the pan.
If there are any thin spots in the dough or corners that the dough hasn’t quite stretched into yet, dimpling is the perfect time to more 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.
Once the dough is suitably dimpled, pour your saltwater brine evenly over the dough. Try not to handle or touch the dough after this point — the water will dissolve the flour in the dough and you’ll lose all your nice dimples. You really want that brine to rest on the surface of the dough.
For the final rise, cover the dough and let it rest for a final 30-45 minutes until it’s noticeably puffy or even has some visible bubbles. If you can, move the sheet tray to the top of your stove for this final stage to let the residual heat of the pre-heating oven encourage the yeast to get to work. This will help the dough rise as much as possible before it bakes.
If you’re topping the dough with anything heavy or dense like tomato halves, garlic cloves, onions, olives, or peppers, you’ll want to place them during the dimpling and brining stage. This way the dough will rise around them and hold them in place as they bake. If you’re using a salt-based topping wait to sprinkle it on top until right before you put it in the oven so that the salt doesn’t dissolve into the already salty brine.
- Kitchen scale
- Bowl scraper
- KitchenAid stand mixer, or other electric stand mixer (hand-held won’t work here)
- Half sheet pan (18×13″) for a thinner, rustic focaccia or High-sided cake pan (9×13″) for a thicker, sandwich-friendly focaccia
For a scaled down focaccia recipe that uses just 1 cup of flour, click here.
easy focaccia bread: no-fuss Ligurian focaccia
- 500 grams all-purpose flour
- 4 tsp diamond crystal kosher salt (use half of another brand)
- 2¼ tsp instant yeast (1 packet, active dry or instant)
- 40 grams olive oil (4 TBSP)
- 10 grams honey (1½ tsp)
- 383 grams warm water (1½ cups+⅛ cup)
For the pan and brine
- cooking spray
- 4 TBSP olive oil (divided)
- 1¼ tsp diamond crystal kosher salt (use half of another brand)
- 60 grams water
- Spray your preferred pan with cooking spray, then drizzle 2-3 TBSP 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 brine by whisking the salt into the water until it dissolves. Set aside.
- Combine dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed just to incorporate.
- Combine water, honey, and olive oil in a liquid measuring cup. With the mixer running on low speed, pour the liquids into the center of the mixing bowl.
- When the dough has fully incorporated (10-15 seconds), increase to medium speed and set a timer for 60 seconds. Let it do its thing.
- Use a bowl scraper to scoop the sticky batter into the center of the prepared pan. Drizzle some oil on your fingertips (or dip them into the pan to coat them with oil) and gently push and stretch the dough to encourage it to continue spreading outward as it rises. The dough will not fill the pan yet.Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Drizzle another 1 TBSP of olive oil across the surface of the dough. Coat your hands with oil again and gently stretch the dough until it almost-but-not-quite reaches the edges of the sheet pan.Cover and let rest for 20 minutes, until lightly puffy.
- Preheat your oven to 450°F degrees, with a rack in the center of your oven. Drizzle another 1 TBSP of olive oil across the surface of the dough. Coat your hands with oil again and dimple the dough by pressing the pads of your fingers down, spreading them out when they hit the bottom of the pan. When the dough is well-dimpled, pour the brine over the surface of the dough. Cover and let rest on top of your stove while the oven preheats for 45 minutes, or until the focaccia is noticeably puffy.
- Right before baking add any herbs, salts, or lightweight toppings you want. Bake for 20 minutes at 450°F degrees, rotating the pan once halfway through. Then, drop the temp to 400°F and bake for an additional 5 minutes until deep and golden brown on top.
- Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to finish cooling. Serve warm or at room temp. 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 45 minute rise.
- For a less crispy exterior, or if your oven runs hot, bake for 10 minutes at 450°F, then drop the temp to 400°F when you rotate the pan and bake for another 10 minutes. If, at the end of the 20 minutes your focaccia doesn’t seem golden brown enough, move the sheet tray to the top rack and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes.