7 Tips for Making Better Focaccia From Scratch

Learning how to perfect this versatile, forgiving bread will pay golden-brown dividends for life.

A great loaf of homemade bread? The goal can feel unattainable, an achievement that takes months or years, one of the tallest kitchen mountains to climb. But not all breads are as challenging as the classic loaf. One of the easiest to master also offers great rewards: focaccia.

Focaccia is commonly made with pizza dough. If you've made pizza from scratch, you're just a few small steps away from great focaccia. But know this: When making focaccia, your options are as flexible as the dough that forms its dimpled, fluffy slabs–i.e., you can use any kind of bread dough. Just keep these seven tips in mind.

01 of 07

A long rise is better.

A longer rise builds better flavor and texture. Instead of an hour rise at room temperature, keep your dough overnight in the fridge and make focaccia the next day. This is an easy way to give your final bread a big boost.

RELATED: 8 Essential Tips for Making Homemade Bread, According to a Master Baker

02 of 07

A naturally leavened rise is best.

Use a sourdough starter or other means of natural leavening to give focaccia dough its rise. A long rise with natural leavening is the best way to make focaccia, as this method creates subtle new flavors and deeper complexity. But if you don't use natural leavening, don't worry. Packaged yeast and an overnight rise work fine.

03 of 07

Proof your dough.

An hour or more before you bake focaccia, shape your dough for proofing. (There are many other intricacies that bakers consider at this stage–like the art of folding dough for individual loaves or sheets of bread–but wait to pursue folding until after you've made many focaccia batches and mastered the basics.) Form your dough into one ball for each sheet of focaccia you'll be making. Cover that ball, letting it rest (and proof) until you're ready to shape your focaccia sheet.

04 of 07

Test different cooking vessels.

Different surfaces affect focaccia texture in different ways. Baking sheets give a thinly crunchy bottom. Cast-iron pans (put in the oven) give more of a nuanced crunch. Our favorite cooking vessel for focaccia is a baking stone lightly sprinkled with semolina flour. This creates a softer bottom crust with slight crispness.

05 of 07

Lightly dimple the shaped dough surface—and add olive oil.

After you've shaped focaccia on your cooking surface, lightly dimple its top with your fingertips. It's OK if some dimples go as deep as half an inch. They give focaccia visual drama. As you douse olive oil over the top, let it pool in the hollows, creating brown patches during baking.

06 of 07

Top with other fresh ingredients.

We come to the best part of focaccia: toppings. There are no limits. Whether you use flaky sea salt and rosemary, or slivered pancetta and sage, creative additions are what separates focaccia from other breads. Fried onions are a foolproof addition. When the season is right, try topping with shavings of hard cheese and thin slices of stone fruit.

07 of 07

Enjoy bread oven-hot, or cut from the leftover loaf just before eating.

Like many foods, focaccia peaks when it's hot and right out of the oven. Of course, you won't always eat a whole sheet then and there, especially if you've made a large one. Cover your leftover focaccia with foil or plastic wrap in one big slab. As you're ready to eat more, slice off the amount you need. This keeps focaccia from drying and lets it retain a bit more vitality. After a brief warming in an oven or toaster oven, you'll be ready to enjoy more of this homey, forgiving, wide-ranging bread.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles