Not Focaccia aka Fluffy Bread
Tall, fluffy no-knead bread full of deep divots dressed in olive oil, flaky salt and any other toppings that sound good. This bread is perfect for soaking up soups and sauces, splitting for sandwiches, or loaded up with toppings for a light meal with a salad. Please don’t be overwhelmed by the number of servings, either; a sandwich will take two servings, the finished bread freezes and reheats well, and the recipe is easily halved and baked in a 9×13 pan (see notes). The dough comes together quickly, no mixer needed, with a couple stretch and folds. Start the dough the night before and then bake the next day.
- Base bread dough
840 g water, 110-115°F
14 g honey or maple syrup
8 g SAF instant yeast
30 g olive oil
1000 g white bread flour (aim for 13-14% protein content; see note)
30 g fine sea salt
More olive oil for drizzling
Flaky sea salt for finishing
- Cacio e pepe variation
Coarsely ground black peppercorns
Crumbled or grated pecorino
- Additional toppings (optional)
Chopped rosemary or other hearty herbs
Garlic confit or roasted garlic cloves
Chopped or crushed olives
Chopped sundried tomatoes
Crumbled feta or chevre
- Whisk together warm water and honey or maple syrup, then sprinkle yeast over to dissolve. Add olive oil and whisk again. Add half the flour, whisk (Danish dough whisk works great) until smooth, then add rest of flour and salt and whisk until a shaggy, uniformly wet dough forms. Cover and let rest for 20 min.
- Wet hands, stretch and fold dough by loosening the dough from the container, sliding your hands underneath one edge, then lifting, stretching and folding the dough onto itself. Use a silicone spatula if needed; the dough will be shaggy and sticky at first. Repeat until all sides of the dough have been stretched and folded. Cover, let rest another 20 min.
- Stretch and fold a second time with wet hands. The dough will already be much stronger and have a more defined shape. I usually slide my hands under the middle of the dough, lift the entire mass so gravity helps stretch the outer edges, allowing the dough to fold over itself in the container, and then repeat a few times. At this point the dough should be taut and smooth and almost difficult to stretch. Drizzle olive oil over and brush or spread with your hands so the entire surface is coated. Cover, let cold proof in the fridge (or a cold but not freezing garage, 35-40F) for 12-24 hours.
- Prepare half sheet pan with 2″ tall sides: Drizzle the bare pan with a bit of olive oil to secure parchment paper; lay two sheets of parchment paper, barely overlapping, to cover the bottom and all sides of the pan and press to fit sides; then spread another 2-3 T olive oil evenly over the parchment.
Tip dough into the prepared pan. Wet hands, lift and stretch and tri-fold dough like a business letter, and flip seam side down. Be careful that the parchment remains in place. Cover with an inverted second pan. Let rise at room temp until dough looks light and jiggly with bubbles on the surface, but not soupy. Dough should have spread out and will nearly fill the pan. This will take 1-5 hours depending on air temperature, with warm temps taking less time and cooler temps (under 65°F) taking longer.
- Preheat the oven to 430°F. Oven rack should be in the lower third. If you are using a metal baking pan and also have a baking steel or baking stone, use it; if you’re using a glass or ceramic baking pan, skip the steel or stone.
- When the dough is bubbly and fluffy and has expanded to nearly fill the pan, wet your hands and press dimples into the dough with your fingertips. Push fingers straight down into the dough, almost touching the bottom of the pan. If dough has not expanded to fill the pan corners, gently push dough toward corners while dimpling. Drizzle a couple tablespoons of olive oil over dimpled dough and sprinkle generously with flaky sea salt and any other toppings. If using larger toppings like garlic confit or sundried tomatoes, gently poke them into the dimples.
Bake 26-30 minutes until the top is golden brown and the edges are just beginning to brown. Let cool in the pan for a few minutes and then remove to a cooling rack to keep the bottom crisp. For less mess, you can also let it cool in the pan but the bottom and sides will be softer.
- To halve: Follow recipe as written, halving ingredients, and use a 9×13 pan prepared with parchment and oil. Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown.
- To freeze: Allow bread to cool completely. Wrap in plastic or other airtight wrapping and freeze. To enjoy: Unwrap and reheat frozen bread in 350F oven.
- Bread flour: My favorite bread flour for this bread is Champlain Valley Milling’s Mt. Marcy organic high-gluten white bread flour. Any white bread flour with a protein content of 13-14% will work well. This recipe does not do well with whole grains or low-gluten flours.