Experience the wonderful simplicity of making your own overnight focaccia bread. This simple recipe produces an airy texture and golden crust that are ideal for enjoying with your favourite bowl of soup or having it with a side of balsamic dressing. For a hassle-free baking experience, prepare it the night before, and enjoy the enticing aroma of freshly baked bread the next day.

Are you ready to elevate your bread-making skills to new heights? Look no further than overnight focaccia bread—a delightful creation that combines simplicity with irresistible flavour. In this easy-to-follow guide, we’ll explore the art of crafting this beloved Italian classic, step by step. Get ready to roll up your sleeves, dust your hands with flour, and immerse yourself in the joy of creating homemade focaccia bread that will impress your taste buds and loved ones alike.

First things first, let’s talk ingredients. The beauty of focaccia lies in its simplicity, requiring just a handful of pantry staples to bring it to life. Flour, water, yeast, salt, and olive oil are the basic building blocks of this delectable bread. However, don’t be afraid to get creative with your toppings—fresh herbs, garlic, olives, cherry tomatoes, and even cheese can take your focaccia to the next level. Gather your ingredients and let’s begin the journey.

Now, onto the magic of overnight fermentation. Unlike traditional bread recipes that require immediate baking, overnight focaccia benefits from a slow rise in the refrigerator. This extended fermentation process not only develops complex flavours but also creates a light and airy texture that is characteristic of a perfect focaccia. As you prepare the dough and tuck it away in the fridge, anticipate the excitement of waking up to a dough that has doubled in size and is ready to be transformed into a culinary masterpiece.

The next step is shaping and topping your focaccia. Once the dough has completed its overnight rest, gently coax it onto a baking sheet and let your creativity shine. Use your fingertips to create dimples across the surface of the dough, providing cozy pockets for the olive oil to pool. Sprinkle generously with your chosen toppings, ensuring an even distribution of flavour and texture. As you work, envision the golden crust and fragrant aroma that awaits you in the oven.

Finally, it’s time to bake and indulge. Preheat your oven and slide the pan of prepared focaccia into its warm embrace. As the bread bakes, your kitchen will be filled with the tantalizing scent of freshly baked goodness. Keep a watchful eye as the crust turns a beautiful golden brown, signalling that your focaccia is ready to be enjoyed. Once out of the oven, resist the temptation to dive in immediately—allow the bread to cool slightly before slicing into generous squares and savouring each bite.

Reasons to Love Overnight Focaccia

  • Convenience: Overnight focaccia bread is the epitome of convenience. With minimal hands-on time required, you can prepare the dough in the evening and wake up to a risen masterpiece, ready to bake.
  • Flavour Infusion: The overnight fermentation process allows the flavours of the dough to develop and intensify, resulting in bread with a depth of flavour that is simply unparalleled.
  • Texture Perfection: Thanks to the slow rise in the refrigerator, overnight focaccia boasts a light, airy texture with a satisfyingly chewy crust—a winning combination that will have you coming back for more.
  • Customizable Toppings: One of the joys of making focaccia is the endless variety of toppings you can experiment with. Whether you prefer savoury herbs, piquant olives, or sweet caramelized onions, the possibilities are endless. (You know I will give you some great variations)
  • Versatility: From sandwiches and panini to appetizers and accompaniments for soups and salads, overnight focaccia is a versatile bread that pairs well with a wide range of dishes.

Ingredients need for Overnight Focaccia

  • All-Purpose Flour: The main ingredient in most bread recipes, all-purpose flour provides the structure and bulk of the focaccia dough. It’s versatile and readily available, making it a staple in most kitchens.
  • Yeast: Active dry or instant yeast is essential for leavening the dough, creating the airy texture that sets focaccia apart from other breads. It’s activated by warm water and feeds on sugars in the dough to produce carbon dioxide gas, causing the dough to rise.
  • Water: Water hydrates the flour and activates the yeast, facilitating the fermentation process. It also helps develop gluten, which gives the focaccia its chewy texture.
  • Olive Oil: A key ingredient in focaccia, olive oil adds richness, flavour, and moisture to the dough. It also contributes to the characteristic crispy crust and tender crumb.
  • Salt: Besides enhancing the flavour of the focaccia, salt regulates the fermentation process by controlling yeast activity. It also strengthens the gluten structure and improves the texture of the bread.
  • Sugar or Honey (Optional): While not always necessary, a small amount of sugar or honey can help feed the yeast, promoting fermentation and enhancing the flavour of the focaccia.
  • Toppings (Optional): Focaccia is often adorned with various toppings before baking. Common options include fresh herbs (such as rosemary or thyme), sliced olives, cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced onions, garlic cloves, coarse sea salt, and grated cheese. These toppings not only add flavour but also contribute to the visual appeal of the finished bread.
  • Coarse Salt: A sprinkle of coarse salt on top of the focaccia before baking adds a burst of flavour and a delightful crunch to each bite.
  • Cornmeal or Semolina (for dusting): Dusting the baking surface with cornmeal or semolina prevents the focaccia from sticking and adds a rustic texture to the bottom crust.
Overnight Focaccia

How to make Overnight Focaccia

  • Mix the Dough: In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, water, yeast, olive oil, salt, and optionally, a small amount of sugar or honey. Stir until a shaggy dough forms.
  • Knead the Dough: Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it for about 5–7 minutes, until it becomes smooth and elastic. This helps develop the gluten in the dough.
  • Rest and Rise: Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Then, transfer it to the refrigerator and let it rise overnight (8-12 hours).
  • Prepare the Pan: The next day, grease a baking sheet and sprinkle it with cornmeal or semolina to prevent sticking. Transfer the risen dough to the prepared pan.
  • Shape the Focaccia: Gently press and stretch the dough to fit the size of the pan. Use your fingertips to create dimples all over the surface of the dough.
  • Add Toppings: Drizzle the dough generously with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt. Feel free to add toppings like fresh herbs, sliced olives, cherry tomatoes, or thinly sliced onions.
  • Final Rise: Cover the pan with a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rise for another 30–60 minutes, until it becomes slightly puffy.
  • Preheat the Oven: While the dough is rising, preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C) to ensure it’s nice and hot when the focaccia goes in.
  • Bake: Once the dough has finished rising, place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for 20–25 minutes, or until the focaccia is golden brown and cooked through.
  • Cool and Serve: Allow the focaccia to cool slightly on a wire rack before slicing it into squares or wedges. Serve warm with your favourite dips, soups, or salads, and enjoy the delicious homemade goodness!
focaccia in a pan 1

What is Focaccia Bread

Focaccia bread is a traditional Italian flatbread that is known for its dimpled surface, chewy texture, and savory flavor. It is made from a simple dough composed of flour, water, yeast, salt, and olive oil. Focaccia is often flavored with additional ingredients such as herbs, garlic, onions, olives, cheese, or vegetables, which are either incorporated into the dough or sprinkled on top before baking.

The dough is typically stretched or pressed into a flat shape and then allowed to rise before baking. Focaccia is often baked in a sheet pan or on a baking stone, resulting in a thick, soft bread with a crispy crust. The dimples on the surface of the focaccia are created by pressing fingertips into the dough, which helps to distribute olive oil and other toppings evenly across the bread.

Focaccia is a versatile bread that can be enjoyed on its own, served as a side dish, or used as a base for sandwiches, paninis, or bruschetta. It is commonly found in Italian bakeries and is a popular choice for homemade bread due to its simplicity and delicious flavor.

Variations

Variety is the spice of life, and with overnight focaccia, there are endless ways to customize and create unique flavours. Here are some delicious variations to try:

  • Herb Garden Focaccia: Mix chopped fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, basil, or oregano into the dough before baking. Scatter additional herbs on top along with a sprinkle of coarse salt for an aromatic and flavourful bread.
  • Mediterranean Delight: Top the focaccia with sliced Kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced red onions, and crumbled feta cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with dried oregano for a taste of the Mediterranean.
  • Garlic Lover’s Focaccia: Infuse the dough with minced garlic for a punch of flavour. After baking, brush the warm focaccia with garlic-infused olive oil and sprinkle with roasted garlic cloves for an extra garlicky kick.
  • Cheesy Goodness: Sprinkle shredded Parmesan, mozzarella, or Asiago cheese over the dough before baking. Add a touch of garlic powder and dried Italian seasoning for a cheesy, savoury treat.
  • Spicy Jalapeño Focaccia: Mix finely chopped pickled jalapeños into the dough for a spicy twist. Top with sliced jalapeños, shredded cheddar cheese, and a sprinkle of paprika before baking for a kick of heat.
  • Caramelized Onion Focaccia: Spread a layer of caramelized onions over the dough before baking, then top with fresh thyme leaves and a sprinkle of sea salt. The sweet, savoury flavour of the onions pairs beautifully with the rich olive oil crust.
  • Sundried Tomato and Pesto Focaccia: Swirl pesto into the dough and scatter chopped sun-dried tomatoes on top before baking. Finish with a drizzle of balsamic glaze for a burst of Mediterranean flavours.
Overnight Focaccia
overnight focaccia

Tips and Suggestions

  • Use High-Quality Ingredients: Opt for fresh, high-quality ingredients, especially olive oil and flour, as they significantly impact the flavor and texture of your focaccia.
  • Weigh Ingredients: For precise measurements, weigh your ingredients using a kitchen scale rather than relying solely on volume measurements. This ensures consistency in your dough’s hydration level.
  • Maintain Proper Dough Hydration: Adjust the amount of water in your dough as needed to achieve the right hydration level. The dough should be slightly sticky but manageable. Add more flour if it’s too wet or a splash of water if it’s too dry.
  • Don’t Skip the Refrigeration: Overnight refrigeration allows the dough to ferment slowly, enhancing flavor and texture. It also makes the dough easier to handle and shape.
  • Handle the Dough Gently: When shaping the dough, handle it gently to avoid deflating it. Use your fingertips to create dimples without pressing too hard.
  • Use a Generous Amount of Olive Oil: Focaccia is known for its olive oil-rich crust, so don’t skimp on it. Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil over the dough before adding toppings for a flavorful and crispy crust.
  • Experiment with Toppings: Get creative with toppings to add flavor and visual appeal to your focaccia. Fresh herbs, garlic, olives, cheese, and cherry tomatoes are popular choices, but feel free to experiment with your favorite ingredients.
  • Allow for Sufficient Rising Time: Ensure your focaccia dough has ample time to rise both overnight in the refrigerator and again after shaping. Proper rising ensures a light and airy texture in the finished bread.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use bread flour instead of all-purpose flour?

Yes, you can substitute bread flour for all-purpose flour in the focaccia dough. Bread flour has a higher protein content, which can result in a slightly chewier texture.

Can I make gluten-free focaccia?

Yes, you can make gluten-free focaccia by using a gluten-free flour blend in place of regular flour. Keep in mind that gluten-free dough may have a different texture and may require additional adjustments to achieve the desired consistency.

Do I need to use a stand mixer to knead the dough?

While a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook can expedite the kneading process, you can also knead the dough by hand. Simply mix the ingredients together in a bowl and then knead on a floured surface until smooth and elastic.

How long can I refrigerate the dough before baking?

You can refrigerate the focaccia dough for up to 24 hours before baking. Longer refrigeration may result in over-proofing and a slightly sour flavor.

What can I serve with focaccia?

Focaccia pairs well with a variety of dishes, such as soups, salads, pasta, charcuterie boards, or have it on its own.
focaccia

Easy Overnight Focaccia

Experience the wonderful simplicity of making your own focaccia bread. This simple recipe produces an airy texture and golden crust that are ideal for enjoying with your favourite bowl of soup or having it with a side of balsamic dressing. For a hassle-free baking experience, prepare it the night before, and enjoy the enticing aroma of freshly baked bread the next day.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Overnight Cold Retarding 12 hours
Total Time 12 hours 42 minutes
Course Bread, lunch, Snack, Soup
Cuisine American, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern
Servings 12 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 4 cups Bread flour 512 g
  • 2 tsp sea salt 10 g
  • 2 tsp Instant yeast 8 g
  • 2 cups Warm water 455 g
  • 4 tbsp Olive oil divided
  • flaky sea salt
  • 1-2 tsp Italian seasoning

Instructions
 

Make the dough

  • In a spacious bowl, blend the flour, salt, and instant yeast. Pour in the water. With a rubber spatula, combine until the liquid is absorbed and a sticky dough ball forms. Lightly coat the dough's surface with olive oil. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel, cloth bowl cover, or plastic wrap, and refrigerate promptly for a minimum of 12 hours or up to three days.
  • Line two 8- or 9-inch pie plates or a 9×13-inch pan (see notes above) with parchment paper or grease with butter or coat with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Pour a tablespoon of oil into the centre of each pan, or 2 tablespoons of oil if using the 9×13-inch pan. Using two forks, deflate the dough by releasing it from the sides of the bowl and pulling it toward the centre. Rotate the bowl in quarter turns as you deflate, turning the mass into a rough ball. Use the forks to split the dough into two equal pieces (or do not split if using the 9×13-inch pan). Place one piece into one of the prepared pans. Roll the dough ball in the oil to coat it all over, forming a rough ball. Repeat with the remaining piece. Let the dough balls rest for 3 to 4 hours, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.
  • Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 425 °F. If using the rosemary, sprinkle it over the dough. Pour a tablespoon of oil over each round of dough (or two tablespoons if using a 9×13-inch pan).  Rub your hands lightly in the oil to coat, then, using all of your fingers, press straight down to create deep dimples. If necessary, gently stretch the dough as you dimple to allow the dough to fill the pan. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt all over.
  • Transfer the pans or pan to the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the underside is golden and crisp. Remove the pans or pan from the oven and transfer the focaccia to a cooling rack. Let it cool for 10 minutes before cutting and serving; let it cool completely if you are halving it with the intention of making a sandwich.

Notes

Yeast: If you’re working with active-dry yeast, just sprinkle it evenly over the lukewarm water. Allow it to sit for about 15 minutes, or until it becomes foamy. Once foamy, continue following the recipe.
Keyword bread, Focaccia, homemade, Mediterranean, yeast
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