While I prefer to use bread flour to make focaccia, because it helps the dough rise, you can also easily swap in all-purpose flour. If you don’t have a warm spot in your house to help the dough rise, you can turn your oven to low and leave the bowl on the stove.
Herb Focaccia with Edible Flowers
- 2 ¼ teaspoons fast-acting yeast
- 3 ½ cups bread flour
- ½ cup semolina flour
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling the pan and the bowl
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
- 2 tablespoons cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
- Chives, cherry tomatoes, pitted kalamata olives, and edible flowers (such as rosemary, geranium, pansies, roses, and wild mustard) for decorating
Mix the yeast with 2 cups of lukewarm water in a medium bowl and set it aside so that the yeast disintegrates into the liquid.
Combine the flour, semolina, salt, and sugar with ¼ cup of the olive oil in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. (Alternatively, combine the ingredients in a large mixing bowl.) Run the mixer on low, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until the ingredients are well mixed. With the mixer running, slowly pour in the yeast mixture. Continue running the mixer until the dough has come together in a springy mass and the sides of the bowl are completely clean, at least 10 minutes. (To mix by hand, stir the ingredients together with a wooden spoon, then knead the dough until it holds together well; it’s alright if it’s a little bit sticky.)
While the mixer is kneading the dough, finely chop the thyme and rosemary and add them to the mixer. When the dough has been kneaded for 10 minutes, remove it from the mixer, knead it a few times by hand on a lightly floured surface, and form it into a ball. Oil a large bowl with some of the remaining olive oil, set the dough in the bowl (turning it a few times, so it has oil on its surface), and cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Set the dough in a warm spot to rise or until it has doubled in size and feels puffy and light, at least 3 hours.
When the dough has risen, use 2 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil to generously oil a high-sided baking sheet, then generously dust the pan with the cornmeal. Gently roll out the focaccia with a rolling pin until it is about the size of the inside of the pan. Transfer the dough to the pan and press the dough into the corners. Cover the pan with a clean kitchen towel and set it aside to let it rise a bit, at least 10 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. When the focaccia has risen, use your fingers to make small indentations all over the surface. Pour the remaining ¼ cup of olive oil over the surface of the dough, and sprinkle on the parmesan. Generously season the focaccia with salt.
Use the chives, vegetables, and flowers to create a garden scene on the surface of the focaccia: the chives work well as stems, and you can top them with flower blossoms and petals as well as sliced olives and halved tomatoes.
Bake the focaccia until the top is golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Featured in Episode 104 of Ranch To Table on Magnolia Network.
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Photos by Blakeney Sanford