Let me start by saying that focaccia is not a quick bake. It's not complicated, but it's not quick either because it needs two rises, and you really need to give it all the time allocated so it's light, fluffy, and crispy - all the things we all love about focaccia. So set your mind to making one, and start it in the morning or middle of the day. You'll have it by dinnertime! This recipe for Black Pepper Focaccia is going to be a staple in our house. When you need a nice crusty piece with a little pepper kick, this one is for you! Would also be delicious in a sandwich, just saying...
As always, I do include a few affiliate links in this post for products I truly use and love. This just means that if you make a purchase after clicking one of those links, I'll earn a little money (at no cost to you) to keep the kitchen up and running, which I promise to use to create more fun content like this! One of those affiliates is with Amazon, which requires a very clear disclosure: as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. If you have any questions about affiliates, please reach out!
Ingredients you'll need
This Black Pepper Focaccia recipe comes together with just a few key ingredients.
- Active dry yeast: one envelope, or 2 ¼ teaspoons. Your yeast should foam once it's combined with the hot water and honey. If it doesn't foam after a few minutes, your yeast is dead. You'll need to start over with fresh yeast!
- Honey: you could substitute sugar or maple syrup, if you prefer. The point is to feed the yeast.
- All-purpose flour: this is the bulk of your dough.
- Black pepper: I know it's a pain, but fresh cracked is the best! It absolutely has the most flavor. I also like to use a coarser grind because I like the pepper pieces to be really present in the final bread.
- Olive oil: you'll use quite a bit (it's focaccia, after all!), so make sure you're using a good one that you like the taste of!
- Flaky sea salt: this will be for topping. I like to use Maldon Sea Salt for this.
See full recipe below for detailed instructions.
Focaccia is very forgiving, and as long as you give it enough time to rise, you're going to end up with a tasty treat!
Combine your dough ingredients and let rise for 2-3 hours, until doubled in size.
Fold the dough and transfer to a well-oiled 13x9 inch baking dish. Cover with a towel for the second rise.
After the second rise, the dough will fill the baking dish.
Drizzle with olive oil and use your fingers to push dimples into the dough, all over. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
Bake the dough for 25-35 minutes until golden and crusty. Remove from the oven and drizzle with additional olive oil. Serve warm, immediately, or let cool fully on a cooling rack.
Hint: Be generous with the olive oil in all aspects. Make sure you generously oil the pan, then be generous when you're drizzling oil on top of the dough. This will soak into the bread and give it a wonderful flavor, as well as additional moisture.
Equipment you'll need
There are a few things you'll need to make Black Pepper Focaccia. I like to use a KitchenAid 5-Quart Stand Mixer, but you don't have to. You could also make the dough in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon.
Handling the Dough
First, you'll make the dough either in a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Either way, you want to make sure not to overwork it. Mix just long enough for there to be no more dry spots. It will be a very shaggy dough, and it not form a ball at all. Don't worry! After this, the dough will go into the first rise, covered with plastic wrap.
After the first rise, the dough will have significantly increased in size. It will still be very soft. You do need to deflate the dough so it rises correctly the second time. I like to do this very gently using a spatula and going around the bowl and folding the dough under and on top of itself. You'll be able to see it deflate. About 4 folds (one turn around the bowl) is enough. Transfer the dough to the baking pan, where it will rest for the second rise. Make sure to cover it with a clean dish towel so it doesn't dry out.
After the second rise, your dough will have almost entirely filled your pan. If you need to, you can press it to fit the shape of your pan. You'll need to oil your hands to do this as it will be sticky. Then, use your fingers to press dimples all over the dough. These are those signature focaccia dimples!
Focaccia is best enjoyed fresh (right out of the oven, still a little warm....), but if you have leftovers, there are a few options.
Focaccia can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container. It will dry out (as any bread will), but you can always pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to heat it up and help it soften again. Drizzle with additional olive oil before serving, if needed.
You can also freeze focaccia. Once it's fully cooled, cut it into squares and transfer to an airtight, freezer-safe bag. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Reheat in the microwave for 30-60 seconds to make it warm and soft again, and drizzle with olive oil before serving.
Keep an eye on your dough! If it has gone through the rise time, but is still looking like it "isn't there" or isn't as big and fluffy as you want it to be, give it more time. Rise time varies greatly depending on the temperature of your room, so if your house is cool, the dough will need longer to rise. If it is warm, it will not need as long to rise. There is nothing wrong with letting the dough rise longer!
For the first rise, your dough should be in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. For the second rise, your dough should be in the 13x9in. pan, covered with a clean dish towel. Making sure that it's covered will prevent the dough from drying out as it rises.
If your final baked bread seems to fall a bit flat or be a bit dense, that means you either didn't let it rise long enough, or you overworked the dough. There is minimal dough handling with this recipe (no kneading, etc.) so if you spend time kneading the dough, you're doing more than you need to.
Yes, I definitely recommend it. It helps keep the bread from sticking to the pan, and the focaccia soaks up the majority of the oil (and it's delicious!). It's one of the hallmarks of a good focaccia!
Like everything, it's best fresh. If you have leftovers, you can store them at room temperature in an airtight container. It will dry out, as will happen with any bread, but you can always reheat it in the microwave for a few seconds to make it warm and soft again. Drizzle with additional olive oil before serving.
Yes! Once it's fully cooled, cut it into blocks and put it in airtight plastic bags. Then you're ready to freeze. When you're ready to eat it, reheat it in the microwave for 30-60 seconds. The bread will be warm and soft again. Drizzle with additional olive oil before serving.
Black Pepper Focaccia
- 2 ½ cups warm water
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast one envelope
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 6 Tablespoons olive oil
- flaky sea salt for topping
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the warm water and honey, then sprinkle the yeast on top. Let sit for 5 minutes or until foamy. If it doesn't foam, your yeast is dead. You'll need to discard everything and start again with fresh yeast.
- Add the flour, salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix on low just until combined and no dry spots remain. This will be a very shaggy dough.
- Brush to coat a large bowl with olive oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, 2-3 hours (this will vary depending on the temperature of your room).
- Brush a 13x9 inch pan generously with olive oil and set aside.
- Once the dough has completed the first rise, use a spatula to gently deflate and fold the dough as you turn the bowl. You'll make about 4 folds as you go around the bowl. Transfer the dough to the center of the prepared pan. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise in a warm, dry place until doubled in size, about 1 ½ - 2 hours. The dough should expand to nearly, if not entirely, fill the pan.
- Towards the end of rising, preheat the oven to 450°F. Lightly oil your hands and press the dough to completely fill the pan, if it hasn't already. Then use your fingers to push dimples all over the dough.
- Drizzle with 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle generously with flaky sea salt. Bake 25-35 minutes, until the focaccia is puffed, golden brown, and crusty. Remove from the oven and drizzle with an additional 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool fully. Slice and enjoy!