I love spending a Sunday afternoon with dough. I've never been a big baker in terms of cupcakes and cookies, but playing around with breads is a blast. Focaccia is an easy one. One long proof (which I do warm for a relatively short time in a closed oven, rather than chilled for twelve hours in the fridge—yikes) and then a brief rise once its rolled out in the pan.
Using the same ingredient set from last year's Pesto and Mozzarella Focaccia, I made a few adjustments beyond changing the toppings. Rather than baking at 400 degrees for 15–20 minutes, I risked a 425 bake temp for 20 minutes. The outside was darker, with a crunchy, savory interior. Definitely an improvement.
Topped with thiiinly sliced lemons (blanched before sliced to cut down on the bitterness of the rind) and shredded fresh sage, drizzled olive oil, plus a sprinkling of sea salt and sugar. I can see myself remaking and tweaking toppings and sighing happily over this recipe for a long time.
2 teaspoons rapid-rise dry yeast
1 cup water, warmed to about 115 degrees
2 tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling the mixing bowl
For the topping:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 organic Meyer lemons
6–8 sage leaves, torn to bits
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon sea salt
1. In the bowl of your standing mixer, combine the yeast, water, and sugar. Stir to dissolve, and let sit for 3 minutes, until foamy. With the mixer fitted with a dough hook, turn the mixer on low speed and slowly add 3 1/2 cups of flour to the yeast mixture. Add the dissolved salt (doesn’t have to be completely dissolved) and slowly pour in the olive oil. When the dough starts to come together, increase the speed to medium and mix for about 8-10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic. Add the remaining flour a tablespoon at a time if the dough is too sticky.
2. Turn the dough out onto a clean counter and knead a few times before forming the dough into a round ball. Place the dough ball into a large oiled bowl, turning it so that it is coated with olive oil. Leave the dough ball in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes, until the dough has doubled in size.
3. Meanwhile, fill a small saucepan with water and bring it to a boil. Add the whole lemons and blanch for 2–3 minutes. Drain and run under cold water. Then slice the lemons as thinly as possible and set aside.
4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and coat a sheet pan with olive oil. Turn out the dough on your work surface. Roll and stretch the dough roughly into a rectangular shape; the dough should be about a 1/2 inch thick. Transfer the dough to the oiled sheet pan, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for 15 minutes.
5. Uncover the dough and top with lemon slices and shredded sage. Drizzle olive oil on top and sprinkle with sea salt and sugar. Bake for around 20 minutes, until dough is dark brown and lemons have begun to brown around the edges too. Let cool on a wire rack for 5–10 minutes until serving.