2.25teaspoonsinstant yeast , equal to 1 (1/4 ounce) package
2cupswarm water, 110°F
0.5cupextra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 1/2tablespoonsdry Italian herb blend
0.25teaspooncrushed red pepper
1cupgrated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoonflaked coarse Kosher salt, to finish (optional)
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, stir together the dry ingredients to combine. Add the water and 1 tablespoon of the oil and mix on low speed for 1 minute. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then continue mixing on low speed for another 1 to 2 minutes. This is a wet, limp dough, so don't be concerned if it looks like it's not holding together.
Transfer the dough to a well-oiled work surface and stretch and fold it over onto itself 3-4 times (a bench scraper works well for this). Cover the dough with a large bowl and let it rest for 5 minutes.
Repeat this process three more times, so that you've folded and kneaded the dough a total of four times. You will need to oil your hands and the edge of the scraper. As you do this, the flour has a chance to absorb the liquid and will continue to firm up. It will still be sticky, but should have structure enough to hold a soft shape when you pick it up.
Oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a top with a towel. Let dough rise for 1 hours, until double in size. [At this point it can go in the fridge to be shaped and baked the next day. If the dough is refrigerated, allow it to warm at room temp for 1 hour before starting the next step.]
Line a 18 by 13-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment and drizzle 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil over parchment. Use your fingertips to spread a little of this oil on the sides of the pan as well. Transfer the dough to the pan and drizzle with another tablespoon of oil. With some oil on your fingers, stretch and dimple the dough to fill the pan—this may take 2 or three passes, allowing a brief rest in between to allow the dough to relax and spread. Drizzle with another tablespoons of olive oil.
Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap or invert another rimmed baking sheet to cover and let the dough rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until it comes to the top of the pan. TIP: An oven with just the oven light on can be an ideal place to proof dough.
Heat the oven to 450°F. Sprinkle the dry herbs, crushed red pepper, and Parmesan over the bread and drizzle with additional 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake the focaccia for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan to the oposite position (front to back) and continue to bake for 8 to 10 minutes longer, or until it's golden brown on both top and bottom.
Remove the focaccia from the oven and slide it out of the pan onto a cutting board. If any oil remains in the pan, drizzle it over the focaccia and let cool for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with a little flaked Kosher salt (optional), slice and serve.
All flours absorb liquid differently. The trick is to be patient during the folding process and allow the flour to fully hydrate.
Resist the urge to add more flour when working with sprouted wheat flour. The dough is sticky, so you’ll be tempted to overcome the sticky-ness by adding more flour rather than doing the fold and rest process. If you do, the finished product will be heavier and dry.
A bench scraper is helpful when going through the process of folding and resting the dough.
Rotate the pan in the oven during the bake as all ovens have hot spots. By rotating the pan you ensure an even bake across the bread.
Prepare the dough one day and bake the next. After STEP 4, cover the prepared dough and place it in the fridge overnight. When ready to bake the next day simply remove from the fridge 1 hour before shaping, allowing to rise, and baking.
Store uncut in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or freeze. It is best to store uncut and slice just before serving.
Sprouted white whole wheat flour can be substituted with any sprouted wheat flour or whole wheat flour. Using white whole wheat flour (regular or sprouted) will produce the lightest, tastiest results.
Substitute flavored extra-virgin olive oil such as garlic, lemon, or Tuscan herb for traditional olive oil.
Substitute chile-flavored olive oil for the crushed red pepper.
Pecorino Romano or Grana Padano which are both flavorsome hard Italian cheese are a fine substitute for Parmesan.
See the full list of suggested toppings alternatives in the original post.