When I first started baking, I stayed away from making bread, thinking that you have to have some sort of super power to be able to bake bread. I thought that life was too hectic to spend a whole day baking. Eventually, I dipped my toe in the water, and I ended up with a full on sourdough obsession. It turns out, I was only half right. Sourdough is a LOT of work. Focaccia on the other hand is delightfully low maintenance, and it takes less than two hours from start to finish. Now that’s some bread I can get behind.
Bob’s Red Mill makes some of my favorite flours. My sourdough starter (who I coincidentally named Bob) loves Bob’s Red Mill as much as I do, and when I feed him Bob’s Red Mill Unbleached Enriched Artisan Bread Flour, he’s much happier. He has good taste.
This Olive and Fennel Focaccia recipe uses Bob’s Red Mill Unbleached Enriched Artisan Bread Flour for perfect results. It has a beautiful crunchy salty exterior and a soft doughy interior. Here’s how you can make it.
Start by mixing together the bread flour and yeast. You can use a whisk. Then add the water, honey, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Use a spatula to mix everything together until it forms a lovely shaggy dough. Now we get to use our hands!
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface, like your clean countertops. Then use your hands to gently knead for about three minutes until the dough is smooth and pliable. If the dough is too sticky, add a teensy bit of flour at a time until it’s just right while you knead. If the dough is too dry, add a teensy bit of water at a time until it’s smooth and pliable. Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl, cover with saran wrap, and place in a warm place for an hour until it doubles in size.
Now the fun part! Once the dough is twice the original size, punch it down with your fist and then knead it on the work surface for another minute or so. Cover it with a towel and let it rest for ten minutes.
Drizzle two tablespoons of olive oil on a baking sheet. Use your finger tips to spread the dough out onto the baking sheet. This can be an oval or you can stretch it gently without tearing it, corner to corner. Poke little dents into the dough with your finger tips and push the olives into the dough gently. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with the fennel seeds and remaining salt.
Now we’ll bake this guy for about 20 minutes until he gets lovely and golden. Then once it cools slightly, slice into squares for serving. That’s it!
This is such an easy loaf of bread to make, and it would be an excellent first bread for anyone.
Plus these olives and fennel make for delicious flavor bombs.
This post is sponsored by Bob’s Red Mill, the preferred flour of my sourdough starter and me!
- 3½ cups Bob's Red Mill Unbleached Enriched Bread Flour
- 1 cup room temperature water
- 2½ tsp instant yeast
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil plus ¼ cup
- ½ tsp honey
- 2 tsp kosher salt, plus some for sprinkling
- ½ tbsp fennel seeds
- ⅔ cup pitted kalamata olives
- In a large mixing bowl, add the Bob's Red Mill Bread Flour. Add the yeast and mix together. Add the water, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, honey, and 2 teaspooons of the salt. Mix together with a spatula until a shaggy dough is formed.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured workspace and knead until pliable, about 2-3 minutes. If the dough is too dry, add an additional tablespoon of water at a time until the texture is right. If the dough is too sticky, add a little extra flour to your work space, kneading it in.
- Once dough is pliable, form the dough into a ball, place in a large mixing bowl, very lightly coated in olive oil. Cover with saran wrap and leave in a warm place to rise for one hour.
- Preheat the oven to 425 F.
- Once the dough is doubled in size, punch it down with your fist and turn out onto a clean workspace. Knead just one minute. Let the dough rest, covered with a clean kitchen towel for ten minutes.
- Grease a baking sheet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Start spreading your dough out onto the baking sheet with your fingertips until it almost covers the whole baking sheet. Poke gentle dents into the dough with your fingertips throughout the surface of the dough. Poke the olives into the surface of the dough. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the dough. Sprinkle with fennel seeds and a few pinches of salt.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown on top. Slice into squares and serve.