I’ll admit, this recipe is quite long, but don’t be daunted, it will take you through each step thoroughly. This recipe comes from one of my old Food and Wine magazines. I love to make this on one of those ‘stay at home’ days, when I can just relax and cook. You’ll be amazed by the results!
Makes a 17 x 13″ Focaccia
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 cup (packed) minced yellow onion
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp. minced fresh thyme
2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
Freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cup lukewarm water (105 – 115 degrees)
1 cup lukewarm milk (105 – 115 degrees)
1 scant tablespoon salt
2 tsp. plus a pinch of sugar
1 1/4 ounce envelope active dry yeast
About 6 1/2 cups flour
Cornmeal for dusting
Coarse salt, for sprinkling
1/4 cup ice water
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large medium yellow onion, cut into thin wedges and separated into strips (3 cups)
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. finely chopped mixed fresh herbs (I use Herbs de Provence)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
12-15 oil cured olives, pitted and halved
Herb, Olive and onion Focaccia
Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over moderate heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, reduce the heat and cook until softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the herbs and a generous amount of peppeer and cook for one minute. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Stir in 1 cup of the water, then the milk, salt and 2 teaspoons sugar.
In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and the pinch of sugar in the remaining 1/2 cup lukewarm water until creamy and starting to bubble. Add to the onion mixture. Stir in the flour, 1 cup at a time, just until the dough becomes too stiff to stir. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. With the help of a dough scraper, knead in only as much additional flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Knead the dough until smooth, supple and elastic, about 5 minutes. *This process can also be done in a Kitchen Aid mixer with the dough hook attached.
Generously grease a clean large bowl with olive oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl and turn once to coat with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Set aside in a warm draft free spot until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
Punch down the dough. Re-cover the bowl and let the dough rise again until doubled, about 1 hour.
Brush olive oil over the bottom and sides of a 17 x 13 x 1″ black steel or heavy aluminum baking sheet. Sprinkle cornmeal on the pan then tap out excess.
Punch down the dough and turn in out onto a cornmeal dusted work surface. Turn the dough over and over to coat lightly with cornmeal and shape into a rough rectangle. Lift the dough and place in the prepared pan. Gently pull, push and pat the dough so it fills the baking sheet. Let the dough rise uncovered in a draft free spot until billowy, 45 minutes to one hour.
Meanwhile make the topping – Heat a large, deep skillet over moderate heat. Add the oil and onions, reduce to low and cook until the onions are slightly softened. Add the garlic and cook until softened but not brown. Add the mixed herbs, season with coarse salt and pepper and cook for one minute. Set aside to cool.
When the dough has become billowy, spread the onion topping over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border. Make many indentations through the topping with your fingers. Arrange the olive halves decoratively on the dough and sprinkle coarse salt evenly all over the top.
Preheat the oven to 450F and position a rack in the bottom third. Place the baking sheet in the oven, toss the ice water on the oven floor and bake the focaccia for about 30 minutes until the edges are crisp and a deep golden color. Using a long metal spatula, slide the focaccia onto a large rack to cool. Cut into pieces with a serrated knife. Enjoy!