This small batch focaccia recipe uses just one cup of flour to make a mini focaccia that bakes up golden brown and fluffy on top with a crispy bottom in a standard loaf pan.
This mini loaf pan focaccia is the second entry in my "small batch recipes" series. Previously I shared my recipe for a single (epic) cinnamon roll and I had so much fun making it that I just had to try scaling down another one of my faves.
My deep, abiding love for focaccia is well documented, but that doesn't mean there's not room for another recipe.
This small batch focaccia recipe is perfect for when you want focaccia but don't want to use up 4-6 cups of flour satisfy that craving.
It's the perfect size bread recipe for if you're single or live alone and are cooking only for yourself, or if you're cooking for you and just one other person.
It's also great if there are any ingredient shortages (say, due do an ongoing global pandemic) or if you just want to avoid using up all your best baking ingredients.
For a full size version of this recipe, check out my overnight focaccia.
About This Mini Focaccia
This small batch focaccia recipe uses just one cup — ONE CUP! — of flour. That's it! And the final version of the recipe uses a heaping 1 teaspoon of yeast, which means one packet of yeast (2¼ tsp) can make two mini loaves of focaccia.
To develop gluten and give the focaccia strength and structure, this recipe uses a technique called folding to "knead" the dough.
In early versions of the recipe I was doing folds every 5 minutes, but that made the gluten too tight and the dough didn't relax nicely into the pan.
The final version of the recipe calls for folds every 15 minutes for 30 minutes (two sets of folds) which is extra nice because it's much more hands off for you!
Here's what you'll need to make this mini loaf pan focaccia. No fancy or hard to find ingredients, and you can definitely get creative with your toppings!
- All purpose flour - Regular all purpose flour is just fine here. You can use bread flour, but you may need to adjust the amount of water or add more flour to get the dough to the right consistency.
- Water - Lukewarm or slightly warm water, but not hot water. If you use cooler or cold water the dough will take twice as long to rise.
- Sugar - Crucial for getting that beautifully golden brown focaccia crust and adds a nice flavor.
- Yeast - I use instant (sometimes called "rapid rise") yeast. See notes below for adapting for active dry yeast.
- Salt - I use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt which is 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 (e.g. teaspoons) and using a different brand of salt, even a different brand of kosher salt, cut the amount of salt in half.
- Olive Oil - I like using a bold flavored olive oil for focaccia because it's such an olive oil-forward kind of bread and I want to enjoy that delicious EVOO flavor. You can definitely use flavored or infused olive oils here too.
Mixing this small batch mini focaccia dough is very simple and doesn't require any fancy equipment. If you have a bowl, a spatula, and at least one hand, you can mix this focaccia dough. Also, I believe in you. And you are capable of making great bread.
Start by combining the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium sized mixing bowl. Pour in the warm water, then sprinkle the yeast on top. Let it rest on the surface of the water for 30-60 seconds to hydrate slightly, then pour in the olive oil.
Mix with your hand or a spatula, slowly incorporating more flour in from the sides until you have a messy ball of dough in the middle of the bowl.
Fold the dough over itself a few times to start building some structure in the gluten network.
I usually switch to my hands at this point, but you can stick with a spatula or bowl scraper if that's easier.
It will be quite messy and sticky. That's normal; don't panic. Just get the dough in a loose ball shape. Cover and let it rest for 15 minutes.
A Modified "Slap-n-Fold"
The "slap and fold" is a technique used to add structure and strength to bread doughs in place of kneading. It's particularly useful for very sticky, high-hydration doughs.
Usually it's done on a countertop, but because this mini focaccia recipe is so small, you'll be doing a modified mini version of the slap and fold in the bowl.
I've included video gifs below so you can watch how to do it yourself.
The dough will get easier to fold each time as it builds strength and structure. Make sure you're rotating the dough 90 degrees between folds so that the gluten is being stretched in all directions.
As you repeat the folding and resting process, you're building a criss-crossed network of gluten inside the dough that will trap air bubbles and enable the dough to rise. If you only fold in one direction the dough won't have the strength it needs.
Here's what the dough looks like after one, two, and three sets of folds.
TIP: If the dough is sticking to you, wet your hands with water or a tiny bit of oil. Not too much or you'll add too much water to the dough, but just enough to prevent sticking!
After you finish the last set of folds, transfer the dough into a greased and oiled loaf pan. The grease (non-stick spray) prevents sticking, while the drizzle of olive oil gives your mini focaccia a gorgeously crispy bottom.
Gently stretch the dough into a vagely rectagular shape. It likely won't fill the whole bottom of the pan yet, that's okay. Cover and let it rest somewhere warm (70-75F) for one hour.
After about an hour, the focaccia dough will have relaxed and expanded into the pan. It may not fill out all the corners, but it will have filled out a lot more of the pan.
Drizzle the dough with a little more olive oil, and rub some olive oil on your fingers too. Now, it's time for the most fun step of all: DIMPLING.
Press your fingers down into the dough until they touch the bottom of the pan. Spread your fingers slightly when you hit the bottom of the pan to push the dough into the corners. Repeat until the dough is dimpled across the surface.
Cover the loaf pan and let the focaccia rise for another 30-60 minutes in a warm spot. The dough will rise and bubble up in the pan.
Right before baking, drizzle one more glug of olive oil across the focaccia and add any herbs or finishing salts you want to use.
Bake for 20 minutes at 400F until golden brown on top. Let cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then turn it out onto a sheet pan to finish cooling.
Instant Yeast vs. Active Dry
Instant and active dry yeast are the same thing — the difference is that active dry yeast granules have a tiny shell around them that needs to be dissolved before use.
Generally you can use the two fairly interchangeably, although active dry yeast can sometimes take a little longer to rise because that shell takes time to dissolve.
I encourage you to use instant yeast for this recipe to get the best results.
If you only have active dry yeast: Use 5 grams instead of 3 grams. Sprinkle it on top of the water, give it a stir, and then let it sit for 3-5 minutes instead of the 30 seconds the recipe calls for. This will help that shell dissolve before you start folding the dough and will allow the yeast to get to work faster.
For sandwiches, you'll want to slice it across the middle so you have two square-shaped halves of the loaf. Then slice them in half, separating the dimpled top from the crispy bottom and fill them with your favorite sandwich toppings.
For crispy garlic breadsticks, slice the focaccia into thin strips, arrange on a lined sheet pan, and top with minced garlic (or garlic salt), dried basil and oregano, and grated parmesan cheese. Bake at 350F until the cheese melts and starts to brown. These are super tasty for dipping in tomato soup!
Because of how oily and salty focaccia is, it's best eaten on the same day you make it. The salt draws moisture out of the bread, which means after 24 hours it becomes quite dry.
To revive day old focaccia, slice it thin and toast it in a skillet with a bit of butter. And if, somehow, you do have any leftovers from this mini focaccia, you can freeze it in an airtight bag.
Practical Tips & Recipe Notes
- Yes, making a loaf pan focaccia does take slightly longer than my recipe for a full-size focaccia but there are good reasons for that: 1) because this is so small, when I tried adding more yeast to speed up the rising time you could taste the yeast which was unpleasant and 2) the scaled down dough is too small for an electric mixer, so the gluten is developed by folding the dough over itself a few times during the first 30 minutes of the rise time. It's also worth pointing out this is still a much faster recipe than any of the full-size no-knead variations by several hours.
- MEASURE WITH A KITCHEN SCALE. I've written the recipe below using weight measurements in grams because when you're working with such small quantities, a little too much of one ingredient or a little less of another can radically change your outcome. So if you have a kitchen scale, you're definitely going to want to use it here. I did include volumetric measurements (cups, teaspoons) because I find them useful just to have in mind as I'm measuring with the scale, but I don't encourage using them if you don't have to.
- I usually top this mini focaccia with Maldon Sea Salt Flakes, but you can use any finishing salt you like. You can also top this with fresh herbs, veggies, or anything else you want (I've even done it as a mini version of my onion and pepper focaccia!). Just remember that the dough has to work harder to hold heavier toppings up, so if you're planning on using anything heavy (whole cherry tomatoes, etc.) less is more!
- If you ARE planning on using any heavier toppings — onions, tomatoes, etc — put them on the dough after dimpling but before the final rise. That way when the dough rises one last time, it rises around the toppings and secures them in place.
- I used a 9x4" (1 lb) loaf pan but you can use a 9x5" pan (1.5 lb) if that's all you have. Just know that the dough might not stretch out into all the corners in the larger pan.
I haven't tried it, but a good rule of thumb for using Whole Wheat flour in any recipe is that you can replace up to 25% of the flour with WW flour. That would mean replacing 30 grams of the AP flour with WW flour. So you'd use 90g AP and 30g WW flour here. I wouldn't recommend using all whole wheat flour, because it's a much tougher flour that absorbs a lot more water — it's very rare that whole wheat recipes use entirely WW flour. You may also need to add a little bit more water or use very wet hands while you're doing the folding to make up for the fact that the whole wheat absorbs so much more liquid. If you give it a try, let me know!
I haven't tested this, so can't say for sure. Using sourdough discard alone won't work, however. It doesn't have enough rising power. You'd need to use active sourdough starter and it would likely change all the timing of the stretching and folds and stuff.
If you do want to use sourdough discard and your sourdough is 100% hydration, you can try reducing the amount of flour and water the recipe calls for by 10 grams each and adding 20 grams sourdough discard to the dough. Then proceed as usual. You'll still need the yeast to give it rising power, but the sourdough discard will add flavor!
UPDATE 4/12/21 — A huge thanks to my volunteer recipe testers Beth, Sarah, Lisa, Cecile, Kelly, Rachel, and Christine who gave this a try after someone commented that the dough was "impossible to handle." They gave me some great feedback and sent so many gorgeous photos of their own focaccia loaves.
Mini Loaf Pan Focaccia
- 120 grams all-purpose flour (1 cup, loosely packed and leveled off)
- 5 grams diamond crystal kosher salt (¾ teaspoon, use ¼+⅛ teaspoon of another brand)
- 3 grams instant yeast (1 teaspoon)
- 5 grams sugar (1 teaspoon)
- 10 grams olive oil (2 teaspoons)
- 90 grams water, lukewarm (⅓ cup)
- additional oil for the pan and drizzling on top
- additional salt and/or herbs for topping
- Combine flour, salt, and sugar, in a medium sized bowl and mix with your hand to evenly distribute. Make a well in the center and add warm water. Sprinkle yeast on top and let bloom for 30-60 seconds. Add oil, then use a fork or small spatula to stir the liquid in the center, slowly incorporating flour from the sides of the bowl until a sticky dough forms.CORRECTION: In the video you'll see me add yeast and then water. It should be the other way around. Oops!
- Switch to a bowl scraper or spatula and begin folding the dough over itself, rotating the bowl as you go until the dough is cohesive and no lumps or dry spots remain. The dough is very, very sticky at this point so do the best you can — just keep folding for about 30-60 seconds until the dough is somewhat in the shape of a ball.
- Cover the dough and let it rest 15 minutes.
- Then, with a damp hand, scoop the dough up, slap it down in the bowl and fold it over itself away from you. Repeat the folding process 10-12 times until the dough feels like it has tightened up slightly. Wet your hand as needed so the dough doesn't stick to you.Cover and let rest for 15 minutes. NOTE: This is a modified version of the "slap and fold" technique. When you scoop the dough up your fingertips should be cuved under, pointing toward your body. When you pick the dough up, rotate your wrist so your thumb is up — almost like you're holding a cup. Then "slap" the dough on the near side of the bowl and fold it away from you. The idea is to rotate the dough 90 degrees between each fold so you're folding in both directions. This builds structure in the dough and you will feel it tightening up as you work.
- Repeat the folding process one last time (10-12 folds). The dough will still be pretty squishy and sticky, but should be smoother and have more structure to it than the earlier sets of folds. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray, then drizzle in approximately 1 tablespoon olive oil. Transfer the dough from the bowl to the pan, using oiled fingers to gently stretch the dough into a loose rectangle shape. It won't reach the edges of the pan yet. Cover and let rise at room temperature (70°-75°F) 1 hour.
- After an hour, the dough should have increased slightly in size. Oil your fingers and dimple and stretch the dough into all the corners of the pan. Press your fingers down into the dough until they hit the bottom of the pan, then spread them out. It's okay if you tear the dough in a few places.Cover, and let rise for another 30-60 minutes until the dough is airy and bubbly and has filled in the bottom of the pan.
- During the final 30-60 minutes of rising, preheat the oven to 400°F with a rack in the center position.(If your loaf seems to be rising slowly, place the loaf pan on top of the preheating oven so the yeast benefits from the residual heat.)
- Right before placing it in the oven, drizzle on a little more olive oil and sprinkle the surface of the dough with flaky salt, herbs, or any toppings of your choosing, and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown on top.If after 20 minutes it's still looking pale, bake for an additional 5 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and run a knife around the edges to loosen the dough and turn it out onto a cooling rack. Let cool at least 15 minutes before slicing.
- If you are using a different brand of salt, use half the amount by volume. Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt has larger grains and you need less of finer salts to achieve the same results. If measuring by weight it's 5 grams of salt no matter what salt brand you're using.
- Original recipe: Had only 77 grams water and 3 grams of sugar. Folded 3x every 10 mins for 30 mins. Baked at 425°F instead of 400°F. Rest of the recipe follows exactly.