Do not be intimidated by the length of this recipe, because it could not be simpler. Inspired by this awesome no-knead focaccia from Bon Appétit, this 3-step bread is pillowy, chewy and flavored to the core with butter and olive oil. It’s exactly what you want from focaccia and shocking that you can easily make it in your own kitchen. Here, gooey Medjool dates and buttery Castelvetrano olives are pressed into the airy dough before baking, then the whole thing is finished off with a brush of fragrant rosemary butter. While this dough would be phenomenal on a cheese board, alongside homemade soup or a roast chicken, or stuffed with sliced Italian meats for an out-of-this-world sandwich, it’s also satisfying as a snack on its own. While getting your ingredients in order, check the expiration date on your yeast packet. Fresher yeast will give you the best results and those ideal nooks and crannies in each slice.
Recipe and photos by the talented Julia Heffelfinger
Makes one 9-by-13-inch loaf
- One ¼-ounce envelope active dry yeast (about 2¼ teaspoons)
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2½ cups lukewarm water (about 110° F)
- 5 cups (625 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
- 6 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for hands
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 5 Rancho Meladuco Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
- 1 cup pitted Castelvetrano olives, torn
- 3 sprigs rosemary, plus small sprigs for garnish
In a medium bowl, whisk the yeast with the honey and lukewarm water and let sit for 5 minutes. It should look foamy and creamy.
Add the flour and salt to the yeast mixture and mix with a rubber spatula until a shaggy dough forms. In a large bowl, add 4 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the dough and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until the dough is doubled in size, 3 to 4 hours. Alternatively, refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to overnight.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add the rosemary, remove from the heat and let cool. Discard the rosemary sprigs.
Brush a 9-by-13-inch cake pan with some of the rosemary butter, then pour 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in the pan. With the dough still in the bowl, use two forks to pick up the side of the dough opposite you and then fold it into the middle. Rotate the bowl one-quarter turn and repeat the folding process. Repeat this step two more times, folding the dough in on itself and creating a ball. This helps deflate the dough. Transfer the dough ball into the prepared pan, then pour any oil left in the bowl over the top. Turn the dough to coat in the oil. Let rise, uncovered, in a dry, warm spot (like on top of a preheating oven or near a radiator) until doubled in size, at least 1½ hours and up to 4 hours. Your dough is ready to bake when you press into it and it springs back slowly.
Preheat the oven to 450° and set a rack in the middle. Lightly oil your hands and press the chopped dates and torn olives into the dough, dimpling it all over with your fingers (you want to reach your fingers all the way to the bottom). Drizzle the focaccia with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Bake the focaccia until puffed and golden brown all over, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool slightly.
When you’re ready to serve, brush the remaining rosemary butter all over the top of the focaccia. Remove the bread from the pan and garnish with small rosemary sprigs. Cut into squares and serve.
MAKE AHEAD The focaccia can be frozen for up to 1 month. Let thaw at room temperature, then warm up in the oven.