|Source||City Market Instructor Anna Mays|
|Prep time||1 hour, 15 minutes|
|Cooking time||30 minutes|
|Total time||1 hour, 45 minutes|
This method is based on that of Jeff Herzberg in his book Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day. The dough can be stored in the refrigerator, and used as needed, for up to 1 week. The dough will develop richer flavor over its storage life.
The brine technique, originating in Liguria, ensures even salting of the crust. This brine recipe is based on Samin Nostrat’s description of this traditional method in her book Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.
Use of a scale to measure ingredients by weight, rather than by volume, is highly recommended to increase accuracy.
In a medium bowl, scale out and stir together the water, yeast, salt and oil.
In a large bowl, measure the flour. Add the yeast mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until there are no dry patches left. The dough will be shaggy, which is fine. Scrape down the sides, so the dough is sitting in a mound at the bottom of the bowl.
Place a damp cloth or plastic cover over the bowl, not fully airtight, so the dough can breathe. Leave at room temperature for about two hours, until the dough has doubled in size.
The dough can then be used right away, but it will develop a richer flavor if it rests in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours. The dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Before transferring to the fridge, if the dough has not collapsed, drop the bowl on the countertop a few times so the dough sinks down.
When ready to make focaccia, remove dough from the refrigerator and let rest on the counter for about an hour, allowing it to come to room temperature. This will help the dough spread more easily in the pan.
Coat an 18 x 13-inch baking pan generously with olive oil. Using a dough scraper, gently coax the dough from the bowl and onto the pan, being careful not to deflate the air bubbles. Spread the dough out in the pan and use your oiled fingers to make dimples in the dough.
If the dough doesn’t spread easily to all corners, cover and let rest for an additional 30 minutes. The dough may shrink a bit, so repeat stretching once or twice over the course of 30 minutes to ensure dough remains stretched.
Make the brine by stirring together salt and water until the salt is dissolved. Pour the brine over the dough to fill the dimples. Cover and proof the focaccia for 45 minutes, until the dough is light and bubbly.
Adjust oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 235°C (450°F). If you have a baking stone, place it on rack.
Add your toppings and sprinkle with olive oil and flaky salt. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Remove from oven and brush or douse with 2 to 3 tablespoons oil over the whole surface (don’t worry if the olive pools in pockets, it will be absorbed as it sits). Let cool for 5 minutes, then release focaccia from pan with metal spatula and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.