Herbed Flatbread (Focaccia) 4 Ways
1½ cups warm water
1 pack active dry yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups (500 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon fresh rosemary
Mixed tomatoes (about 8 ounces)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Mixed olives (about 8 ounces)
1. Stir yeast packet into water and allow yeast to bloom. (A light foam should appear on top of the water after about 5 minutes. This means the yeast is alive and active.) Add olive oil to water and mix.
2. In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, and herbs together. Once incorporated, create a small well in the middle and pour in the water/yeast/oil mixture.
3. Mix by hand, wetting your working hand before mixing so the dough doesn’t stick to your fingers. The water and flour should come together and form a rough dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour in small increments, about 1 tablespoon at a time. If the dough is too dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Once the dough begins to come together, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball. Coat the bowl the dough was initially mixed in with about a tablespoon of olive oil and place the dough ball inside. Give it a few turns to coat the dough in the oil. Cover and let the dough rise until it doubles in size (1-1.5 hours).
4. While the dough rises, prepare a large baking sheet by generously coating it with olive oil.
5. Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto the prepared baking sheet and flatten it out into a large rectangle. Using a knife or dough scraper, cut the dough into 4 evenly sized rectangles. Press the rectangles flat and arrange them with each one pressed into a corner of the baking sheet. Cover and let the dough rest for 20 to 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450˚F/230˚C while the dough is resting.
6. Uncover the dough. Depending on the temperature of your kitchen and activeness of the yeast, the 4 rectangles should have risen to be about an inch think. Using your fingers, poke the the dough all over--creating small dimples across the surface.
7. Generously coat the tops of the dough rectangles one last time with olive oil (some oil will pool inside of the divots we made with our fingers. That’s ok!) Use a basting brush to ensure all of the dough gets covered with olive oil.
8. Top the dough rectangles with your choice of toppings. (We did four different combinations, including tomatoes with fresh rosemary, caramelized onions and parmesan cheese, mixed olive with gorgonzola cheese, and 3-cheese using parmesan, mozzarella, and gorgonzola.) Once finished with the toppings, liberally sprinkle the breads with a coarse salt.
9. Bake at 450˚F/230˚C for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
10. Allow the bread to cool for 10 minutes before cutting.