Sage and Garlic Focaccia
Crusty, chewy focaccia bread topped with fresh sage and loads of garlic.
2 1/2 cups water - divided use
1 (0.25-ounce) packet active dry yeast, or 2 1/4 teaspoons
1/2 teaspoon honey
6 cups all-purpose or bread flour - divided use
3/4 cup old dough*
4 teaspoons salt - divided use
2 cups extra virgin olive oil - divided use
24 chopped fresh sage leaves
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- In a small bowl sprinkle yeast over warm water (105°F to 115°F / 40°C to 45°C) and let sit until foamy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in honey until dissolved.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix old dough* with 1 cup of water and 1 cup of flour, stirring until you have a pasty mixture. Stir in yeast mixture until well combined.
- Place half of the rest of the flour (about 2 1/2 cups) and half of the salt in a food processor and pulse to mix. Add half of the old dough/yeast mixture and pulse until just combined. Add half of the remaining water (1/4 cup) through the feed tube while the processor is running. Process the mixture for 1 minute. The dough should be wet and sticky. In the last 10 seconds of processing, pour 1 cup of the extra virgin olive oil through the feed tube.
- Empty dough into a large bowl and repeat process. Combine both batches in the bowl by mixing them together with a wooden spoon or plastic dough scraper. Let dough rise, covered, in a warm place for 1 hour.
- While dough is rising, combine sage leaves, garlic, remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil and 2 teaspoons of salt in a small bowl; set aside
- Turn out dough onto a well-floured surface and divide in half. The pieces will be wet and sticky, so use a little flour to roll into tight balls. Place each piece in a separate bowl and coat with sage and garlic mixture. Cover and allow to rise in oil mixture for 3 to 4 hours, or until dough is tripled in size.
- Remove dough from oil (reserve oil) and transfer onto extra-large baking sheets that have a rim at least 1/2-inch high. With the palms of your hands and with your fingers open wide, spread dough into 12 x 18-inch rectangles, 3/8-inch thick. The dough may spring back. If so, let it relax for a few minutes, then repeat stretching process. Pour sage and garlic mixture over top of dough, using a brush to evenly coat. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C).
- With your fingers, poke holes in loaves.
- Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden. Bottom should sound hollow when tapped. Cool on wire racks.
Makes 2 loaves.
*Old dough is basically leftover, unbaked bread dough (usually held in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours, or 6 to 8 hours at room temperature) that's used to enhance the flavor of other bread. Decrease the amount of salt you add in this recipe if the old dough contains salt.