Flatbread Focaccia?

Sometimes you set out to do one thing but end up doing something else just as good. I don’t mean setting out to find a route to India, and you end up “discovering” a whole new continent, but I guess it’s the same kind of thing: a happy accident.

That’s what this turned out to be — a happy accident. I meant to make Focaccia, but it came out as a sort of flatbread. A really yummy flatbread.

Of course now I need to figure out what I did wrong.


The bread

4 cups flour
3 packets active dry yeast (21 grams total)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

The toppings

1-2 cups prosciutto bits
— or —
bacon bits
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
4-8 cloves garlic (depending on whether you’ve got a hot date)
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


Dissolve the yeast in about a cup of warm water — between 105° and 115°. Too hot will kill it, to cold and it will remain dormant.

Make a pile with the flour on a spotlessly clean work surface, make a well in the center, and pour in the yeast.

Add the olive oil and the salt.

In case you’re wondering, no, I didn’t measure the salt precisely. Please don’t tell my Home Ec teacher. (Not that I had one.)

With the thin handle of a wooden spoon, stir slowly in the middle of the well, pulling more flour into the center with each turn. Once the liquid is incorporated enough to not run all over the surface, pull the rest of the flour in with your hands and start kneading.

Sorry, no pictures of this process. It’s very sticky, and there’s a limit to how much gunk I want on my camera.

Once all the liquid is incorporated, scrape everything up with a scraper or spatula, and add just enough water to incorporate the rest of the flour.

Knead until it is a firm, smooth consistency.

Place the dough in a lightly-oiled bowl — the oil is optional if you’ve got your great-great-grandmother’s bread bowl — and cover with a damp tea towel or dish towel.

Allow the dough to rise for about two hours, until it has doubled in size. Check after about a half hour; if it doesn’t seem to be rising, move the bowl to a warmer place.

Once the dough is risen, set out all the ingredients you’ll be putting on top.

For the fresh rosemary, strip the leaves off of each stem. Remove as much of the small stems as possible, leaving only the leaves. Try not to crush or mangle the leaves, or you’ll get all the flavor on your hands instead of in the bread.

Chop the rosemary roughly. You want each leaf cut into two or three pieces. The garlic, I’ve had done as slices that were pressed all the way through the dough, and I’ve had it chopped and pressed into the top. I prefer the chopped version.

Once all your toppings are ready, oil the pan with olive oil. Spread to make sure it’s completely covered.

Stretch the dough so that it mostly covers the pan. I like to leave rounded ends on the short side. It just looks better.

Poke the dough with your fingertips to make little depressions, then brush the top with olive oil.

Cover the top with garlic and rosemary.

Add the prosciutto/bacon bits, and press everything gently into the dough. Just press it enough that everything doesn’t fall off when the bread is baked.

Don’t try to make it perfect, but make sure there will be some toppings on every piece once it’s cooked.

Bake at 400° for 15-20 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

Slice and serve while still warm.

Usually at this point I’d say, “And that’s it.” Except that this time … that’s not it.

The flatbread you see in that last picture was delicious. But it’s not as thick and soft as focaccia is supposed to be. I’ve got a few things to try differently next time.

1. Let the dough rise again before putting it in the oven. This is my best bet.

2. Place a bowl of water in the oven while baking to keep the top more moist.

3. Use more olive oil when brushing the top so it turns golden and I pull it out sooner.

UPDATE: 4. I got a tip via email to add a little sugar when dissolving or “proofing” the yeast to get it going better. I’ll give that a shot next time, too.

My wife went back three times for more of this, so the flavor was definitely a hit. (And so was the dip … but that’s a story for another day (hint, hint ).

If you’ve got any other ideas for what I need to do differently, please speak up in the comments.