Puffy, chewy-crisp and fragrant with fresh herbs, this Parmesan focaccia goes well with soups, stews and, of course, Italian-style fare. Be sure to use only fresh herbs and avoid the temptation to stir them into the dough (sprinkle them over it); many herbs, including the ones called for here, inhibit yeast growth when they're combined in the dough. The dough bakes on the lowest rack in a very hot oven to simulate the hearth baking that is traditional for focaccia. Recipe by Nancy Baggett for EatingWell.

Nancy Baggett
Source: EatingWell Magazine, January/February 2009


Recipe Summary

1 day


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Mix dough: Thoroughly stir 2 cups all-purpose (or bread) flour, whole-wheat flour, 3 tablespoons Parmesan, the table salt and yeast in a 4-quart (or larger) bowl. Vigorously stir in 1 1/2 cups ice water, scraping down the sides and mixing just until the dough is thoroughly blended. The dough should be barely moist and fairly stiff. If the mixture is too dry, stir in just enough additional ice water to facilitate mixing, but don't overmoisten. If the dough is too wet, stir in just enough flour to stiffen slightly. Lightly coat the top with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

  • First rise: Let the dough rise at room temperature (about 70 degrees F) for 12 to 18 hours; if convenient, stir once partway through the rise. For convenience (and improved flavor), you may refrigerate the dough for 3 to 12 hours before starting the first rise.

  • Second rise: Coat a 9-by-13-inch (or similar) baking pan with oil, then line it with a sheet of parchment paper. Lightly coat the paper with oil. Stir the dough just until deflated. If it is soft, stir in just enough all-purpose (or bread) flour to yield a firm but moist dough (it should be fairly hard to stir). Sprinkle 1 tablespoon chopped herbs over the dough (don't stir them in), then invert the dough into the pan so the herbs are underneath. Drizzle the dough with 2 teaspoons olive oil. With well-oiled hands, lightly pat and press the dough out until it fills the pan and is evenly thick; if it springs back and is resistant, let it rest for 10 minutes, then proceed. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon Parmesan and herbs, and fennel seeds (if using), and pat down. Tent the pan with foil.

  • Let rise at warm room temperature until the dough is double the deflated size, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours. (For an accelerated rise, see Tip.)

  • 20 minutes before baking: Position a rack in lowest part of oven; preheat to 500 degrees F. Lightly spritz or sprinkle the dough with water. With oiled fingertips, make deep indentations, or dimples, all over the top. Sprinkle evenly with sea salt (or other coarse salt).

  • Bake, cool, slice: Reduce oven temperature to 475 degrees . Bake on the lowest rack, turning the pan from front to back halfway through for even browning, until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 204-206 degrees , 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing. Best served warm.


To make ahead: Wrap airtight and keep at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months.

Note: Milled from high-protein wheats, bread flour develops strong gluten, resulting in well-risen loaves. It helps give breads with a high percentage of whole grains better structure and a lighter texture. Find it near other flours in most supermarkets.

Tips: To prepare “ice water” for this recipe, add a heaping cup of ice cubes to cold water and stir for about 30 seconds before measuring out the water.

You can turn your microwave into a warm, moist environment to help accelerate the second rise of the bread dough. Begin by microwaving 1/2 cup water in a 1-cup glass measure just to boiling. Set the water in one corner of the microwave, place the pan of dough on the other side of the turned-off microwave and close the door. The dough will double in size in 45 minutes to 11/2 hours.

Nutrition Facts

124 calories; protein 4g; carbohydrates 23.5g; dietary fiber 1.7g; sugars 0.1g; fat 1.6g; saturated fat 0.4g; cholesterol 1.1mg; vitamin a iu 27IU; vitamin c 1.5mg; folate 65.1mcg; calcium 21.6mg; iron 1.4mg; magnesium 19.5mg; potassium 70.6mg; sodium 298.3mg; thiamin 0.3mg.

Reviews (4)

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5 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 1
  • 4 star values: 4
  • 3 star values: 0
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 0
Rating: 4 stars
This recipe has been corrected since it ran in the January/February 2009 edition of the magazine. The end of Step 2 should read: "For convenience (and improved flavor) you may refrigerate the dough for 3 to 12 hours before starting the FIRST rise." Editor's Note Charlotte VT Read More
Rating: 4 stars
This recipe is very easy and makes a delicious focaccia. Don't skip the sprinkle of coarse salt on top! Read More
Rating: 5 stars
Delicious focaccia If you are willing to allow the dough to rise as needed this is absolutely delicious! I made the bread according to the recipe with rosemary and no fennel seeds. Turned out soft and perfect in the middle and slightly crispy on the outside. It's not hard to make just takes time. Pros: Easy tasty good texture Cons: Requires much patience and time Read More
Rating: 4 stars
I made this with bread flour & white whole wheat plus rosemary. It turned out well but I didn't like the parmesan flavor. I used real high-quality cheese but it just didn't seem right for this bread which surprised me. I would like to omit it but the article is so clear about not making any changes that I probably won't try. I did not put any herbs under the dough before spreading it in the pan--that seemed odd--but put the full amount on top. Oddly enough parmesan detracts here Read More