I have recently been on a bread kick, walking into aperos (the French after-hours exhale) craddling my homemade pretzel, bagel, Brasilian cheese puff or focaccia obsession. My friends often roll their eyes as I unwrap my olive oil-scented focaccia of the moment. Hate if they will, but it is curiously the first thing to disappear off the table.
Buying a baguette is easy enough, but when I need a taste of home, my go-to source for spot-on recipes is King Arthur Flour. Seduced by its hands-off 1-minute mix in a food processor, my trusty focaccia recipe has made a weekly appearance chez moi and has become my apero standby. It’s cheap, impressive and quick enough to whip together before a soiree. The most taxing part is waiting the hour or so it needs to rise. But that time can be used for things like “freelancing” (a minute-to-minute recap of gmail accounts) and an Instagram documentation of the process.
A good recipe is like a good friend. In this case, this recipe will always rise to the occasion. I made this focaccia with a spoon in a country cabin in the rolling hills of Les Cévennes. It still even worked out when I forgot to switch the oven from broiler to regular oven. And it can be accessorized with just about anything left over in the fridge or pantry. How about dressing one up in sesame seeds, poppy seeds, garlic powder and sea salt à la an everything bagel? If not, I borrowed a brilliant idea from cook Alix Lacloche while I was styling her book. Inspired by the paper-thin lemon slices and fennel seeds in her crispy lemon pizzettes, it’s the perfect herbal addition to a focaccia evoking the sunshine of the South.
Haters are going to hate, but bakers are going to bake.
Fool-proof foccacia adapted from King Arthur Flour
Yield: 1 loaf, 10 servings
1 ½ cups warm water
1 packet (5 g) dry, active yeast
2 teaspoons honey
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons olive oil + more for baking dish
1 teaspoon sea salt + more for sprinkling
For an “everything bagel” version:
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
For a lemon/fennel seed version:
1 lemon, thinly sliced on a mandoline or in a food processor
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1. Mix water, yeast and honey in the bowl of a food processor. Let sit for 5 minutes until frothy. Add flour, olive oil and salt. Mix in the food processor for 1 minute, until the dough is smooth. If using a hand mixer with a dough hook or a spoon, mix dough at least 1 minute until a soft, sticky dough forms.
2. Heavily coat a 8″ × 11″ baking dish with olive oil. Sprinkle dish lightly with sea salt. Press the dough into the pan evenly using oiled hands. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1 hour.
3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Unwrap the dough. It should be puffy and doubled in size. Poke fingers into the dough to create indentations. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with desired flavorings.
4. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top of the focaccia is golden brown and springy to the touch. Let cool before serving.
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