Jim Chappuis of My Little Bakery in Duxbury was kind enough to share the formula for his popular focaccia. The teensy amount of yeast, the rather wet dough, and the long fermentation time all contribute great flavor, big crispy bubbles, and an addictive chewiness.

You can mix it by hand or use a stand mixer with a dough hook. Bread flour is great if you have it, but King Arthur all-purpose works fine too. The dough will seem very sticky but avoid the temptation to add any more flour. You’ll need a big square or rectangular plastic container with a good lid, about the length and breadth of a cookie sheet, to help with fermentation and dough handling.

The night before, the preferment:

  • 7.4 ounces (210 grams) unbleached white flour
  • ⅛ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 7.4 ounces (210 grams) warm water

Stir the ingredients together by hand until no dry spots remain. Cover tightly and set in a warm place (preferably 74 to 78 degrees) for 10 to 12 hours. If you have a mixer with a dough hook, you can start this right in the bowl.

For the focaccia dough:

  • 7.4 ounces (210 grams) warm water
  • 13.8 (392 grams) unbleached white flour
  • ⅛ teaspoon instant yeast
  • .4 ounces (11 grams) salt, that’s 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • .6 ounces (17 grams) olive oil, about 1½ tablespoons

If you’re using a mixer, add all the ingredients to the preferment you made last night, which should look nice and bubbly. Mix on lowest speed for 3 or 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and mix on second speed for a minute or two. If you’re mixing by hand, do the same, but hold back on about ¼ cup of the water as you combine the ingredients, adding it only once the dough has begun to come together. Stir well from the bottom of the bowl until the dough is smooth and has developed dome strength.

Preferment mix, fold, rest shape, stretch rest bake

Rub a little bit of olive oil around the plastic container. Scrape in the dough blob, cover it, and return it to the warm place for about 2 hours, stretching and folding the dough every 25 minutes. To do this, remove the lid, wet your fingers under the faucet, and pick up one edge of the blob, pulling it away from the center very gently. Fold it over the entire middle of the dough. Now pick up the opposite edge and do the same. (It helps to think about this as if you were folding a business letter.) Now stretch and fold the other two edges, in the same way, re-wetting your hands if the dough is sticking too much. Close it up and put it back in the warm spot for another 25 minutes. You’ll repeat this twice before the 2 hours is up, and it gets easier each time as the dough develops.

To finish the focaccia:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper (optional)
  • fresh thyme or rosemary or sage leaves (optional)
  • caramelized onions or other favorite topping (optional)

Separate the dough in two, rounding each half up gently into a smooth-ish ball, and arranging them as far apart from each other in the box as possible. Let them rest for 20 minutes as you generously oil two baking sheets and prepare any desired toppings.

Wet your fingers and pick up one of the dough blobs by an edge, gently stretching it into an oblong shape (if it really resists stretching, give it another 10-minute rest). Lay each one on an oiled sheet, and then flip it over. Spread your fingers and poke your fingertips gently down into the dough, stretching it a bit more. Sprinkle on your seasonings, then let the focaccia rest for about an hour. Start heating the oven to 450 degrees about halfway through this final proofing time.

Bake until nice and golden brown top and bottom, about 30 minutes.

Transfer to a rack to cool a bit.

Makes 2 focaccia.

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My Little Bakery
282 St. George Street
Duxbury, MA 02332
(781) 934-2352