Kitchn Love Letters

The Pillowy Bread Recipe That I’ve Baked More than a Dozen Times

updated Dec 28, 2020
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(Image credit: Sheela Prakash)

At Kitchn, our editors develop and debut brand-new recipes on the site every single week. But at home, we also have our own tried-and-true dishes that we make over and over again — because quite simply? We love them. And we decided to start sharing some of our absolute favorites with you. Here’s a peek into what we’re cooking and eating in our own kitchens.

There’s something immensely satisfying about homemade bread. Although, to be honest with you, I never really felt the need to bother with it while living in New York City, with so many great bakeries at my fingertips. When I moved to Charlotte, however, things changed, and I quickly felt a carb-y void in my life.

Things quickly turned around when I finally started baking bread myself. Yet, it wasn’t until I came across this recipe for homemade sourdough focaccia that I realized I may never buy a loaf of bread again. (It’s that good.)

Why I’m So Obsessed with This Focaccia

I’ve been baking a whole lot of bread ever since I was gifted a jar of sourdough starter from a friend a couple of years ago, but it wasn’t until I discovered this recipe that I convinced myself it was worth continuing to keep the starter alive. (More on starters below, if you’re not familiar.)

(Image credit: Sheela Prakash)

What I love about this particular recipe is that it’s pretty low-maintenance, relatively speaking. It requires little of you besides a bit of kneading and rising on the front end. Letting the rest of the magic happen in the fridge not only frees up your time, but also results in focaccia with a much more developed flavor. It’s got a gentle tang of sourdough that’s delicately sweet, thanks to just a tiny bit of honey in the dough, and olive oil-rich. All that olive oil also means the crumb is super-moist and a bit flaky. My husband is so in love with this focaccia that he’s declared it the only bread he ever really wants to eat, which is a serious statement coming from a die-hard carb-lover like himself.

What’s more is how infinitely adaptable this focaccia is. It freezes like a charm, which is great since one batch yields enough for 12 good-sized sandwich squares — and even more if you’re cutting it for a snack, appetizer, or side. After the baked bread is cool, I’ll slice it into squares, drop them into a large zip-top freezer bag, tuck it away, and grab pieces as needed.

There’s also the subject of toppings — this is the most fun part! While the recipe goes the classic rosemary and flaky salt route, that’s really just the beginning. Over summer, I mixed in thyme and oregano from my garden. I’ve also sprinkled on loads of sesame seeds, herb salt, smoked paprika, za’atar, and, most recently, everything bagel seasoning. There’s really no end to what toppings to add, which is good because I don’t see an end to continuously baking this focaccia.

A Foolproof Sourdough Bread That Goes to Work While You Sleep

The only tricky part about this recipe is that you’ll need a sourdough starter. Don’t run off right away, though, because if you don’t have one already, it’s not too hard to make one yourself and it’s even easier to buy one or ask a generous friend who has one to share some of theirs (I’ll happily mail you some of mine!).

I promise it’s worth keeping a sourdough starter in your fridge if only to make this recipe. Mostly because it’s foolproof and you’ll be patting yourself on the back with every bite, in awe that you baked sourdough bread that could easily be sold at your local bakery. First, you’ll combine some of the starter with bread flour, water, olive oil, salt, honey, and a bit of instant yeast in a large bowl or the bowl of stand mixer. The recipe calls for using ripe, fed starter but I’ve used unfed or the discarded starter I’ve removed when feeding mine pretty much every time, since I originally read the recipe wrong, and it has yet to fail me — the instant yeast in the dough ensures it will rise even if the starter isn’t super active.

(Image credit: King Arthur Flour)

After, you’ll drizzle some olive oil onto a large sheet pan and plop the dough onto it. The dough gets stretched and coaxed out to fill the pan and then it’s covered in plastic wrap and moved to the fridge to rise overnight.

When you wake up in the morning, all that’s left to do is turn the oven on, take the sheet pan out of the fridge, dimple the dough all over with your fingers, drizzle it with more olive oil, sprinkle it with the topping of your choice (more on that below), and bake it for 25 minutes until golden-brown. The recipe calls for whipping together a quick ricotta-honey spread to serve with it, which I’ve never bothered to do, although I am sure it’s awesome — I just want to get to the bread faster.

4 More Focaccia Recipes to Try