I am still in love with paninis, and I don’t see that love wavering any time soon. I wanted to make the Chicken Frontega Panini with my own foccacia. As excited as I was for this to happen, my foccacia came out delicious, but too oily for my panini press. It squished all the ingredients out. To my Mother-In-Law’s advice, I dried out the bread in the refrigerator for a day, and it was perfect! Although I could not use it right away because of it’s oil-content, it became a dream. Besides, I couldn’t stop eating it even without any sandwich fillings. It’s great alone, toasted with butter–dipping in sauces. The possibiities are endless.
Making foccacia isn’t difficult, but it doesn’t provide instant gratification as you need to wait for the yeast to work its magic. Save this for your day off–make it in the morning, and indulge for lunch. This is very much worth the wait.
This is the perfect fall recipe; your house will spell like an herbal oasis. Enjoy!
*Although you can use any other pan, this recipe is tailored for a cast iron skillet. I also believe the cast iron skillet delivers in getting the right texture for a good focaccia. If you don’t have one already, invest! They’re very inexpensive and will last for life!*
- For the dough:
- 2 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast* (a package is fine)
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary (you can scale back to one tablespoon if you don’t love herb flavors)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme (you can scale back to one tablespoon if you don’t love herb flavors)
- For the herb drizzle:
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary, or more to taste
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme, or more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
- sea salt
- freshly cracked pepper
- Combine milk and brown sugar. Warm in microwave for 1½ minutes or until about 110-115˚F. When you stick a finger into the mixture, it should feel hot, but not so hot that it’s uncomfortable. If it’s not warm enough, place back in microwave and cook at 15 second intervals till temperature is correct. If you’re new to yeast, I recommend using a thermometer. They’re very inexpensive. Once the liquid is the right temperature add yeast and stir. Let stand until foamy about 5 minutes. Add two tablespoons of the olive oil.
- Using the dough hook on a stand mixer, mix the flour, salt, rosemary, and thyme. Add the yeast mixture and mix until a soft dough forms, about 2 minutes. Continue to mix with dough hook for 5 minutes. **If your dough is too wet from the oil, it’s okay! Focaccia is very forgiving, so you can simply leave the wet dough to rise in the cast iron pan even if it’s not a ball. As long as the dough rises over time, you will get the right texture.**
- Move the dough to one side of the mixer bowl, drizzle a bit of olive oil into empty side of bowl and then turn the dough until lightly greased. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk (size), about 1 hour.
- Combine all of the ingredients for the herb drizzle in a small microwave-safe container. Cook on high for 30 seconds to release the herb oil and flavor. Set aside to cool.
- Preheat an oven to 425°F.
- Using your fingertips, press down firmly into the dough to make dimples about ½ inch apart and 1 inch deep. Drizzle the herb oil evenly over the dough. Gently rub with your fingers to evenly distribute the oil. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and let sit for another 15 minutes. Feel free to add more spices/herbs directly on top as well like I did!
- Bake until golden brown, 15 to 25 minutes until golden brown on top. Let cool in the cast iron skillet. Slide the focaccia onto wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. Garnish with more fresh thyme and rosemary leaves, if desired.