I love baking bread and this recipe is perfect for a smaller group. The times provided are always contingent on how warm it is in your kitchen space, so they are not perfectly reliable. Baking it in a square pan gives you a lovely even loaf and makes it easy to cut in even portions. I love the green castelvetrano olives but you could choose to eliminate or use a different kind …up to you! Happy baking!
Makes 1 (8-inch) loaf
- ¾ cup water
- About 2 -3 tablespoons pure olive oil, divided
- 2 cups bread flour
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 cup diced, pitted green olives, I love castelvetrano
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 small russet potato (88 grams)
- 1 bunch thinly sliced scallions, green parts as well
- 1 ounce grated manchego cheese
- Garnish: fresh sprouts or herbs
In a measuring cup, heat water to about 100 degrees, add sugar and yeast and allow yeast to proof and begin foaming (5-10 minutes). In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough attachment add flour, parsley, olives and 1½ teaspoons salt, and yeast mixture. Beat at low speed for a few minutes until incorporated. scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Increase mixer speed to medium-low, and beat until dough pulls away from sides forming a relatively smooth, slightly sticky, stretchy ball.
Oil a medium clean bowl and transfer dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 1½ hours. Every 30 minutes, fold dough over in the bowl a few times. This will help develop some air pockets in the dough. Fold dough over from sides toward the center starting from the bottom and bringing edges to meet toward the middle. Dough should eventually double in size.
Spray an 8 inch pan with cooking spray. Turn out dough into prepared pan, and using fingertips, gently stretch dough out to completely fill prepared pan. Cover loosely and let dough rise in a warm, draft-free place for an additional 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 450. Uncover dough and dimple the dough with your fingertips, pressing down to the bottom of the pan every inch or so. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Cover loosely again and allow dough to rise for an additional 15 minutes ( ideally it should rise to about halfway up the pan) Slice potato (preferably with mandolin) about 1/16 of inch thick. Pat dry and toss with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper. Place potatoes, slightly overlapping on top of the dough and take about half of scallions and distribute evenly on top of potatoes.
Place pan in oven and bake until top of dough starts to brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining scallions and reduce oven temperature to 425°F and bake until top is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 205 degrees (about 10 more minutes). Sprinkle with manchego and bake until cheese is melted, an additional 3 or so. Let focaccia cool in pan for 10 minutes. Use a firm spatula around the perimeter of the pan to remove bread and cut in squares to serve garnished with herbs or sprouts as desired. Enjoy!