This mini loaf pan focaccia is the second entry in my "scaled down 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. We're now officially about three months into this "new normal" of social distancing, and though flour is easier to come by, there's still a lot of places where it's hard to find.
This focaccia recipe is perfect for when you want focaccia but don't want to use up 4-6 cups of flour satisfy that craving.
This 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 teaspoon) can make two mini loaves of focaccia.
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.
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 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!
a modified "slap and 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 dough is so small, you'll be doing a modified mini version of the slap and fold in the bowl. I've included videos embedded in the recipe 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. 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.
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!
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.
a few quick 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.
- This recipe uses Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt which has larger salt grains than your standard sea salt, kosher salt, or table salt. If you're measuring by volume (measuring spoons) and are using a salt brand other than Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt, use half the amount of salt. If measuring by weight, the salt brands are interchangeable — it's 5 grams no matter what brand or type of salt you use.
- I usually top this with Maldon Sea Salt Flakes or I use this garlic salt that I brought back from a trip to the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland a few years ago, but you can use any finishing salt you like. You can also top this with fresh herbs, veggies, or anything else you want. 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!
- 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.
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. The tl;dr here is that the recipe works but some of the instructions weren't as clear as they could have been, particularly for people who aren't used to handling very sticky doughs, so I've updated the accompanying videos AND have clarified some of the instructions in the recipe to hopefully make them a little more beginner friendly.
loaf pan focaccia [small batch]
- 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.