Once the dough has risen for about an hour, it will look like this:
Now, turn it out onto a greased and lightly floured pan and let it rest for a half hour. Be careful how you flour it, because any flour that is not under the bread when you bake it will brown and not smell good—it will not hurt the bread and cleans pretty easily, but may not be the pleasant-baking-bread scent you would like to fill your home with. [I forgot to grease and flour the pan so I had to move the dough once it had rested, which is a hassle and can mess up the bread. Don’t be like me. Also, since this bread will be donated to a bake sale, I decided to cut the dough in half and make two loaves instead of my normal Hubcap of Focaccia, so I put them on separate pans. This will affect the baking time, but nothing else. The following pictures demonstrate that I am a baking rebel. And my rebelliousness gets me into trouble sometimes.]
After it has rested on the previously greased and floured pan, it will puff up again:
Now, you can start to shape it into a loaf on the same pan. Press gently and spread the dough flat, like a pizza crust. Don’t be rough with the it or it will tear or the bubbles will deflate. And the bubbles are very important to the focaccia. The focaccia and the bubbles are like BFFs. They will die without each other. Or something…
Once you’ve shaped the loaf the way you want it (hubcap, long and skinny, more squarish… go with your gut), it should be about an inch to an inch and a half thick. Using your finger (or the handle of a spoon like me), make indents in the crust all around, about ¾ of the way deep. This keeps the bubbles under control during baking, creates the characteristic focaccia texture on the top, and gives the olive oil little places to hide and distribute yumminess.
It should look like this:
Using a pastry brush, coat the top with olive oil.
Really go to town on this. Olive oil is like the bubbles, but olive oil is in love with the focaccia. Dedicated to making the focaccia be the best it can be. Wait, what? Anyway… Take your coarse salt (mine is sea salt in a grinder that I open to the widest setting, but you could probably just use regular coarse salt…) and go to town again.
Do it until you can see the salt:
Bake at 475 for 15-20 minutes, until golden and beautiful (if you split the dough to make two loaves, bake for about 10-15 minutes). I usually turn mine or trade shelves about halfway through to facilitate even baking. Here’s one of the herbed loaves:
Let's see the salty golden brilliance up close:
It also tastes delicious. I would slice one so you could see it in all its glory, but I’m giving these away. And people are hesitant to buy stuff that looks like someone’s already been eating it.
So there you have it. In only long three posts, Elise’s Hubcap of Focaccia. Or in this case, Elise’s Small Snowshoes of Focaccia.