8 Times Focaccia Proved to Be the Must-Know All-Purpose Dough

November  8, 2016

New York’s Breads Bakery is about maximalism: Your options for morning pastries stretch two walls, sweet or savory, flaky or crusty—and we’re not even talking about their breads or lunch options yet.

So when co-owner Uri Scheft came by the offices to make the focaccia from his new book, Breaking Breads, on Facebook Live, we knew he wasn’t going to make one bread and say farewell.

Casual! Photo by Bobbi Lin

With little balls of his no-knead focaccia dough resting under cloth in front of him, he took them one by one and shaped and topped focaccia after focaccia—each of them beautiful and different from the last (not to mention the lightest and airiest we've ever met). “Focaccia is my canvas,” he reiterated.

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And the same can be true for any of us, non-artists and non-professional bakers included. Uri’s dough recipe is happy to bend and fold to your focaccia whims—below are just (just) eight ideas to get you started that Uri demo-ed on Facebook Live. And if your heart wants the classically minimalist olive oil and salt duo, that’s a great option, too:

Airy, dreamy focaccia dough. Reprinted from Breaking Breads, photos by Con Poulos

1. The Classic: Salt and olive oil. Done and done.

2. Seeded Focaccia: Roll the dough in a wet towel first so it’s wet enough for the seeds—whether they’re sesame, sunflower, nigella, poppy, or pumpkin, combined beforehand—to stick. Press the now-sticky dough gently into the seed mixture, dimple the dough with your fingers, then drizzle with olive oil and bake.

3. Tomato Focaccia: Lay a row of tomatoes-on-the-vine on the focaccia bed, sprinkle with salt and olive oil, and bake. When the focaccia’s done baking, the tomatoes are slightly slouched and saucy-warm.

4. Spinach Focaccia: After step 1 of the recipe, once the dough has risen for half an hour, add a half pound of coarsely chopped spinach, folding them in as instruction in step 2.

5. Shakshuka Focaccia: Instead of dipping bread into your shakshuka, lay your shakshuka in your bread.

6. Wreath Focaccia: Fold the dough into a round shape instead of a cylinder, then pierce a hole in the middle and stretch it so the dough forms a ring. Decorate the dough with whatever vegetables you like—Uri went with mushrooms, olives, onions, and okra. Drizzle with salt and olive oil before baking.

7. Shishito-Feta Focaccia: Lay whole shishito peppers right in the dough, sprinkle with feta. Both will melt to tenderness after their time in the oven.

8. Pizza: Roll the dough very thin and top as you would any pizza. Uri did his with canned cherry tomatoes and spices. Then, he added some quail eggs part-way through cooking (You don’t want to add them at the start because the eggs will hard-cook before the focaccia is ready.)

For more multi-purpose doughs and baking inspiration, Uri's book is Breaking Breads.

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Editor/writer/stylist. Author of I Dream of Dinner (so You Don't Have To). Last name rhymes with bagel.