Reprinted from Tables & Spreads by Shelly Westerhausen Worcel with permission by Chronicle Books, 2021
This is my go-to recipe whenever I want to have some fresh bread for guests. Although this requires a little plan-ahead prep because of the rising times, this recipe is one of the easiest bread recipes I make.
2 cups [480 ml] warm water (around
21/4 tsp active dry yeast
2 tsp sugar
5 cups [700 g] all-purpose flour
3 tsp fine sea salt
1 cup [240 ml] McEvoy Ranch Traditional Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil*
Flaky sea salt, for finishing (optional)
*We recommend trying this recipe with McEvoy Ranch Basil or Rosemary Agrumato Olive Oils for added flavor!
Combine 1/4 cup [60 ml] of the warm water, the yeast, and sugar in a small bowl and let sit for 10 minutes, or until bubbly.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough attachment, add the flour and fine sea salt and mix for a few seconds to combine. Add 1/2 cup [120 ml] of the olive oil, the remaining 13/4 cups [420 ml] of warm water, and the yeast mixture and knead on medium speed until the dough comes together, about 30 seconds. Turn the speed up to medium-high and knead for 5 minutes. Remove the dough, coat the mixing bowl in olive oil, and transfer the dough back to the oiled bowl. Cover with a clean dish towel and place in a warm location for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
Drizzle the remaining 1/2 cup [120 ml] of olive oil into a half-sheet pan (18 by 13 in [46 by 33 cm])—this is going to look like a lot of oil but it’ll produce a crispy crust. Transfer the dough into the prepared pan and use clean hands to press the dough into the pan. Turn the dough over to coat the other side with olive oil and continue to press the dough into the pan with your fingertips, making sure the dough stretches to fit the size of the pan. Cover and place in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 425°F [220°C].
Place all the toppings into individual bowls and arrange on the table. Place all the garnish items into small bowls and set those off to the side. If you’re not making the bread with the board of toppings and garnishes, sprinkle with the flaky sea salt before baking.
Once the dough has doubled in size, press it down one last time with clean fingertips, leaving indents all over the dough. Place the sheet of dough on the table where you’ll have your guests add their toppings.
Instruct your guests to sprinkle the dough with toppings, a large pinch of salt, and a drizzle of olive oil. Feel free to let guests pick their own sections to customize, or go wild as a team.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the focaccia is golden brown on top. Mean- while, remove the bowls of toppings from the table and replace them with a serving bowl of the Greek-ish Salad with Orange- Fennel Vinaigrette and all the bowls filled with garnish options.
When the focaccia is done, remove it from the oven and let cool before cutting into squares.
Let guests add garnishes to their individual squares of focaccia and enjoy!