Makes 1 loaf
- 1 1⁄2 cups room-temperature water (68–76°F)
- 2 1⁄4 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 cup bread flour
- 2 1⁄4 cups bread flour plus extra for dusting
- 4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil plus extra as needed
- 2 tsp table salt
- Coarse salt or salt flakes for garnishing
- To make the sponge, combine the water and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook or in a large mixing bowl. Stir until the yeast is dissolved. Stir in the flour to make a soft batter about the consistency of pancake batter. Mix by hand until very smooth. Cover the bowl and let rise in a warm place until the sponge is thick and foamy and nearly doubled in size, about 3 hours.
- To make the final dough, add the bread flour, 4 tsp olive oil, and table salt. Mix and knead the dough with the dough hook on medium speed until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel, and let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled in size, about 40 minutes.
- Fold the dough over on itself by lifting the edges up and over the center. Cover and allow to relax for another 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Coat a baking sheet liberally with olive oil.
- Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface and, using your palms, gently stretch the dough into a rectangle that is an even 1 inch thick and nearly the same dimensions as your baking sheet. Avoid tearing or puncturing the dough with your fingertips. Transfer to the baking sheet, cover, and let rise until the dough springs back slowly to the touch but does not collapse, about 40 minutes.
- Use your fingertips to gently dimple the surface of the focaccia and drizzle with additional olive oil. Scatter with the coarse salt or other toppings if desired. Bake until the focaccia has a golden brown crust and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, 25–30 minutes. Let cool completely on wire racks.
Formulation courtesy of The Culinary Institute of America