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Herb and Olive Focaccia

This savory Italian bread is a versatile addition to your repertoire of recipes. You can serve it alongside soups, salads or frittatas or as an accompaniment to a cheese platter. Or, you can top it with slices of tomato and fresh mozzarella cheese for an easy open-faced sandwich.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (2 1/4 tsp.) quick-rise yeast 
  • 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water (110°F) 
  • 3 1/2 Tbs. olive oil, plus more for greasing 
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh oregano, rosemary or sage 
  • 1 tsp. salt 
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste 
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups bread flour 
  • 1 small yellow onion, quartered and sliced 
  • 24 oil-cured black olives, pitted and chopped 

Directions:

To make the dough by hand: In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water. Add 2 Tbs. of the olive oil, 1 Tbs. of the oregano, the salt and a generous grinding of pepper. Using a wooden spoon, gradually stir in 3 cups of the flour to make a soft dough that holds its shape. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead, adding the remaining flour as needed, until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

To make the dough with a stand mixer: In the 5-quart bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water. Add 2 Tbs. of the olive oil, 1 Tbs. of the oregano, the salt and a generous grinding of pepper. Place the bowl on the mixer, attach the dough hook and gradually beat in 3 cups of the flour to make a soft dough that holds its shape. Knead with the dough hook, adding the remaining flour as needed, until the dough is smooth and elastic and comes away from the sides of the bowl, 6 to 7 minutes.

Form the dough into a ball, transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat with the oil and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in bulk, 45 to 60 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the onion, the remaining 2 Tbs. oregano, the olives and 1 Tbs. of the olive oil and stir well. Set aside.

Oil a rimmed baking sheet. Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Form the dough into a ball, transfer to the prepared baking sheet and let rest for 5 minutes. Using your fingers, stretch the dough so it evenly covers the bottom of the baking sheet. Cover the dough loosely with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until puffy, 30 to 40 minutes.

Preheat an oven to 425°F.

Using your fingertips, make a pattern of dimples at 2-inch intervals over the entire surface of the dough. Brush with the remaining 1/2 Tbs. olive oil. Sprinkle evenly with the olive mixture. Bake until golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 1 flatbread.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Breakfast and Brunch, by Georgeanne Brennan, Elinor Klivans, Jordan Mackay and Charles Pierce (Oxmoor House, 2007).