This classic focaccia is great on its own, or double down with a sandwich.
Source: Martha Stewart Living, August/September 1993
Yield Makes one 12-by-18-inch loaf
1 pinch sugar
2 3/4 cups warm water, 100 degrees to 110 degrees
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for bowl, baking sheet, and drizzling
6 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon coarse salt, plus more for sprinkling
Fresh rosemary (optional)
In a large bowl, stir sugar into 1/4 cup of the water, and sprinkle in yeast. Stir well; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
Add remaining 2 1/2 cups water and the olive oil, and mix well. Add flour a cup at a time, mixing well. Add salt, and knead dough until smooth and elastic, 4 to 5 minutes in an electric mixer fitted with a dough-hook attachment, or 8 to 10 minutes by hand.
Form dough into a ball, and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Spread dough evenly onto an oiled baking sheet. Cover with a damp towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.
Dimple surface of dough with your fingertips, leaving deep indentations. Cover with towel again, and let rise until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle oil on top of dough, allowing dimples to fill. Gently spread oil over surface without deflating dough. Brush lightly with water, then sprinkle with salt and rosemary, if desired.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven, and slide onto a wire rack. Serve as soon as possible.
Fennel, Onion, And Olive Focaccia Variation: Heat 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1 thinly sliced onion and 1/2 thinly sliced fennel bulb; cook, stirring, until soft, about 4 minutes. Season with coarse salt and pepper. Follow instructions for focaccia dough. After drizzling dough with oil, top with onion-fennel mixture. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Kalamata olives (pitted and halved); season with salt. Bake as instructed. While still warm, sprinkle with chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley.