This recipe is a gluten free variation on an old Irish classic, which I picked up at culinary school in Ireland. Baking soda was introduced in Ireland the early 1800s, and it meant that people who didn't have an oven—and virtually nobody had an oven back then—could make soda bread. Families cooked the bread in a big cast-iron pot right onto the coals or onto the turf fire. These families typically also had buttermilk from the cows and they would have been growing wheat, so they would have had flour.
Let's be real here. Focaccia bread is always a crowd pleaser. A good focaccia is salty, with a crunchy exterior and pillowy soft interior - perfect for dipping in olive oil, sopping up the last drops of a succulent pan sauce, or for slicing into slabs to make a seriously luxurious sandwich.
I make this focaccia recipe a minimum of once, and sometimes three, times a week. Though the dough does need a good 12-24 hours to rise in the fridge, it comes together in just a few minutes and requires no kneading whatsoever. The recipe is from a beloved (and sadly, now closed) Brooklyn based sandwich shop, Saltie, and I learned about it thanks to food writer Luisa Weiss, aka The Wednesday Chef. There aren't many ingredients in this recipe, so use the best quality you can... for me, that means olive oil from California Olive Ranch, flour from King Arthur, and a (generous) dusting of flaky Maldon Sea Salt.
Serves: makes 1 sheet pan of bread (feeds a crowd)
- 6 1/4 cups flour (750 grams)
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon *instant* yeast
- 3 1/2 cups warm water
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing and drizzling
- Flaky sea salt
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and yeast. Add the warm water to the flour mixture and stir briskly with a wooden spoon until all the flour is incorporated and a wet, sticky dough forms (it should be the consistency of a wet porridge). Pour 1/4 cup olive oil into a very large bowl (like one from a standing mixer) or 6-quart plastic food container. Transfer the focaccia dough to the container, scoop a little oil from the sides over the top, and cover tightly. (If you're using a bowl, wrap tightly and thoroughly in plastic wrap, making sure there's plenty of room in the bowl for the dough to rise). Place in the refrigerator to rise for at least 8 hours or for up to 2 days.
- When you're ready to bake, heat the oven to 450° F.
- Line a 18 x 13-inch baking sheet with parchment paper and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Remove the focaccia dough from the refrigerator and pour onto the prepared pan, and use your hands to spread the dough out on the prepared pan as much as possible (this will take a few minutes).
- Place the dough in a warm place and let it rise until it about doubles in bulk. The rising time will vary considerably depending on the season. In the summer, it might take just 20 minutes, and in winter it can take an hour or more. When the dough is ready, it should be room temperature, spread out on the sheet, and fluffy feeling.
- Using your fingertips, make a bunch of indentations in the dough (you'll feel like you're playing the piano). Dimple the entire dough and then drizzle everything again with olive oil. Sprinkle the entire surface of the focaccia evenly with flaky sea salt.
- Bake, rotating once front to back, until the top is uniformly golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, then slide out of the pan. Use the same day or slice crosswise, cut into squares, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze.