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Focaccia bread is flavorful and versatile

Focaccia bread is so versatile.

It is soft, flavorful and you can top it with so many items. You can slice focaccia bread lengthwise to make sandwiches with marinated peppers and all kinds of shredded vegetables with a vinaigrette; or stuff some focaccia with thinly sliced grilled steak or roasted chicken. You name it.

Focaccia Bread is so yummy topped with salty olives and sun-dried tomatoes or if you make a deep-dish pizza out of it. This recipe is a standard recipe to start with and to build upon.

Soup and focaccia go very well together. You can dip the bread in your flavorful broth for a nice complete meal.

Focaccia Bread

Sponge ingredients

5 ounces of organic bread flour

5 ounces water room temperature

Pinch of SAF Gold yeast (1/16 teaspoon)

Final dough ingredients

10½ ounces of organic bread flour

6 ounces of water, room temperature, plus 1 ounce for the brine

1 ounce of organic whole wheat flour, sifted to remove the bran

1 ounce extra-virgin olive oil plus more for the baking pan and for drizzling on the top

1½ teaspoons kosher salt plus 1/8 teaspoon for brine

All of the sponge from above

Fresh rosemary (stem removed), chopped for topping

Chef’s note: If you are not using “organic” bread flour, you do not have to sift the whole wheat flour in this recipe. You have to sift organic bread flour, to remove the large pieces of bran from the flour. This way, when you mix the dough, the larger pieces of bran will not harm the gluten formation.

The day before you make your focaccia, mix together all of your sponge ingredients. Cover the sponge and let it set overnight, between 10-12 hours.

The next day, in the bowl of your stand mixer, mix together your sponge and water. Once that is mixed, add in the rest of the dough ingredients except for the salt. Mix the dough with your dough hook on low speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and cover for 10 minutes. Add your salt and mix on medium high speed for five minutes. The dough will be sticky at this point.

Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and let it rest for 15 minutes. When 15 minutes has passed, give your dough a fold.

Fold the dough by putting your hand under one corner the dough and folding it on top of itself into the center of the dough. You want to use this technique and do it to all four sides of the dough.

Let the dough rest 15 more minutes and give it one more fold. Once you have completed the folds, let the dough rest for 1½ to 2 hours.

The time it takes for the dough will depend on the temperature of the room.

While your dough is rising, add the olive oil to a 9-by-13-inch pan and spread it out evenly. When your dough is done rising, gently scrape the dough into the oiled pan. Gently spread the dough to reach the corners. The dough will be springing back, so let it rest covered for 15 minutes.

Once the dough has rested, spread the dough to each corner of the pan and rest for 1 to 1½ hours. The dough is ready when it is really airy and has many air bubbles. 30 minutes before you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

When your bread is ready to bake, drizzle the bread with olive oil. Take your hands and dimple the bread all over. Make sure your fingers go all the way down to the bottom of the pan. Mix together your salt brine and drizzle it all over your bread.

Sprinkle on some fresh rosemary and flaky salt (optional, if you have it) and bake your bread for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Take your bread out of the oven and remove it out of the pan onto a cooling rack.

Let the bread cool completely before cutting.

Focaccia bread