Anne Burrell's Focaccia Recipe With A Twist

Chef Anne Burrell has a broad range of culinary experience, including some time spent in Italy, one of the food capitals of the world. While she certainly brings her own spunk to everything she cooks, aspects of Italian culture and gastronomy have stuck with her over the years. Increasingly common in the United States, focaccia is a pillowy flat bread with a texture that contrasts a crispy exterior with a soft interior. As with many dishes, when it comes to baking, simple fresh flavors often win out over complicated concoctions. Even though baking with yeast can feel a bit intimidating, following a few basic steps ensures a seamless process. Anne Burrell's focaccia recipe certainly sets the stage for success, though it sticks to the plainest version of the bread. 

Kristen Carli, registered dietitian and recipe developer, uses Burrell's recipe as a blueprint and gives it a little twist. The recipe remains straightforward and flexible, as Carli remarks, "the options are endless with focaccia since it is such a perfect base."

What did we change from Anne Burrell's recipe?

While Burrell's recipe is an excellent take on a plain focaccia, the fun thing about the recipe is that it is so malleable. You can leave it simple and use it as sandwich bread for example, or you can throw a few extra ingredients into the dough to season it with versatile flavors. Carli did just that and opted to add fresh sage leaves, sundried tomatoes, and black pepper. 

She selected those herbs and spices because, "I love the strong herbal flavor of sage and black pepper together." To balance out the earthier characteristics, she notes, "The sundried tomatoes add some sweetness and tangy flavor." The final result is delicious and you could easily munch on this focaccia by itself. 

Gather the ingredients

To make this delicious focaccia, you will first need the basic ingredients required for bread. Warm water is used to dissolve a package of dry active yeast, and sugar is added to feed it so that it produces a dough that rises properly. You'll definitely need plenty of flour for this recipe, and both Carli and Burrell opt for all-purpose. Keep in mind that if you choose to use a different type of flour, results might differ slightly. Add a good dose of salt to balance out the flavors and assist the yeast's growth at a slow and steady pace. 

If you're used to making bread, you'll notice a rather substantial quantity of extra-virgin olive oil in this recipe. Olive oil helps the focaccia puff up into its characteristic shape, and it also keep the outer crust golden and crispy — not to mention the rich flavor it imparts!

Carli steps outside of the box and mixes some tasty extras into the dough. Fresh sage leaves infuse plenty of herbal aromatics into the focaccia, which Carli pairs with sundried tomatoes for a salty sweet tang. Finally, plenty of black pepper is added into the dough, infusing it with a lightly spiced woodsy taste. Follow Carli's advice and explore different add-ins every time you make this focaccia. In fact, she tells us that she has "also enjoyed goat cheese and olive focaccia."

Mix the water, yeast, and sugar

Start off by preparing the yeast. In a small bowl or a large measuring cup, combine warm water, the contents of one package of dry active yeast, and the sugar. Whisk them together and set the bowl somewhere warm for at least 15 minutes, until the yeast becomes aromatic and begins to bubble. 

It's important to use warm water or else the yeast activity will be too slow or you may risk killing it. If it hasn't started to bubble after 15 minutes, chances are your package of yeast has expired. In that case, start with a fresh package to ensure that the focaccia rises.

Combine flour, salt, and the yeast in a mixer

Once the yeast is active and bubbling, add the flour, salt, 1/2 cup of olive oil, and the yeast mixture into the bowl of a standup mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix the contents on low speed until they have combined into a uniform dough. This step can also be done by hand but it will take more effort and time to knead the dough to the right consistency.

Add sage, sundried tomatoes, and black pepper and knead

Once the dough is smooth, add in the chopped fresh sage leaves, the diced sundried tomatoes, and a good dose of ground black pepper. Raise the speed of the mixer to medium and continue to knead the dough for 5 to 6 minutes while it becomes smooth and soft. This will take longer if you are doing it by hand. If you notice the dough is sticky, sprinkle a small amount of flour until it is less sticky and comes together smoothly.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover for 1 hour

Coat the inside of a large bowl with some olive oil, and transfer the focaccia dough into the oiled bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap or a lid and keep it somewhere warm for 1 hour. After 1 hour, the dough should be about double the size, thanks to the yeast's activity. This will occur slightly more slowly if you place the bowl somewhere cool.

Prepare a baking sheet, spread out the dough, and let it rise

Pour half a cup of olive oil onto a large baking sheet with sides, spreading it out evenly to coat the surface. Place the dough onto the baking tray, and spread it out using your hands so that it fills up the entire surface of the pan. Then, flip the dough over to coat the top side with oil as well. Keep pressing out the dough with your hands so that it covers the pan. Return the pan to the warm spot you've selected, and let the dough rise for another hour until it has doubled in size again.

Poke holes in the dough, top with olive oil and salt, and bake

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. With your fingers, poke holes across the surface of the dough as if you were playing the piano. As the dough cooks it will puff up to cover the holes. Drizzle more olive oil on top of the dough (we told you it's a key ingredient!), and sprinkle the top with salt – use sea salt for a nice crunch.

Bake the focaccia for 20 to 30 minutes until it has puffed up and the top is nice and golden.

Serve this tasty focaccia

This is definitely flavorful enough to devour by itself, but if you want to try something else, Carli remarks, "I love this with butter or dipped into olive oil and balsamic vinegar." It's a great side for a soup or salad, or used as sandwich bread with a filling. Enjoy it with cheese, spreads you would serve on crackers, or a charcuterie board for a European flair. 

If your willpower is great enough and you have any leftovers, Carli recommends to store them, "in an airtight container or plastic bag at room temperature for 5 days." For the characteristic crispy exterior, simply reheat the focaccia in an oven or toaster. 

Anne Burrell's Focaccia Recipe With A Twist
4.9 from 14 ratings
Anne Burrell's Focaccia With A Twist combines the simple, pillow-like flatbread with chewy sundried tomatoes and savory sage to make a perfect snack.
Prep Time
10
minutes
Cook Time
20
minutes
Servings
12
servings
focaccia on plate
Total time: 30 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1¾ cups warm water
  • 1 package dry active yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
  • 10 sage leaves, chopped
  • ½ cup diced sundried tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
Directions
  1. Combine the warm water, yeast, and sugar in a small bowl.
  2. Put the bowl in a warm place for at least 15 minutes until the yeast starts bubbling and becomes aromatic.
  3. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, 1 tablespoon of salt, ½ cup of olive oil, and the yeast mixture at low speed.
  4. Once the dough has properly combined, add the sage, sundried tomatoes, and black pepper.
  5. Continue to knead the dough for 5 to 6 minutes on medium speed until it becomes smooth and soft. Add a sprinkle of flour if the dough is really sticky.
  6. Coat the inside of a large bowl with olive oil and move the dough to the bowl.
  7. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap, and keep it in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  8. Coat a large baking sheet with the remaining ½ cup of olive oil.
  9. Put the dough on the baking sheet and begin pressing it out to fit the size of the tray.
  10. Turn the dough over to coat the other side with olive oil and continue to stretch it to fit the baking sheet.
  11. Leave the dough somewhere warm until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  12. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  13. Using your fingers, poke holes across the top of the dough to add texture.
  14. Lightly drizzle more olive oil on top of the dough and sprinkle salt on top.
  15. Bake the focaccia for 20 to 30 minutes, until golden.
  16. Cut into slices and serve.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 372
Total Fat 18.9 g
Saturated Fat 2.7 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 44.1 g
Dietary Fiber 2.9 g
Total Sugars 2.0 g
Sodium 261.0 mg
Protein 7.0 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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