Recipes

Crackly Lemon-Rosemary Focaccia

Our favorite recipe for the Italian-inspired flatbread will transport you to the sunny Mediterranean.

  • Serves

    One 12-in. loaf

  • Cook

    4 hours 40 minutes

PHOTOGRAPHY BY BELLE MORIZIO

By SAVEUR Editors


Updated on October 28, 2022

As focaccia evolved in Italy, across the Atlantic, Italian American bakers were making their own versions, riffing on the recipes from the Mother Country with toppings that would’ve been novel in the bread’s homeland. The 1990s, as many of you will recall, were a simpler time for focaccia. Most of it was spongy and rosemary-perfumed à la Macaroni Grill. The bread was a gateway to a world of Italian flatbreads Americans are still discovering. This version, a happy middle ground between Italy and America, tops a Ligurian-style dough with nontraditional lemon slices.

This recipe is adapted from a version served by the late, great Marcella Hazan, which ran alongside Kathleen Brennan’s 2001 story, “Memory: Steeped in centuries of symbolism and tradition, rosemary is a hardy, aromatic and intensely flavorful ingredient, virtually impossible to forget. ” 

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp. dry instant yeast (not active dry)
  • 4 cup (1 lb. 3 oz.) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 Tbsp. (¼ oz.) fine sea salt
  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for greasing
  • ½ cup fresh rosemary leaves (from about 8 sprigs), divided
  • 1 medium, thin-skinned lemon, washed, thinly sliced into rounds, seeds removed
  • Medium-coarse or flaky sea salt, for sprinkling

Instructions

Step 1

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, dissolve the yeast in 1¾ room temperature water. Add the flour and mix on low speed just until all of the flour is hydrated and a shaggy dough begins to form, 1–2 minutes. Turn off the mixer, cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel, and set aside for 30 minutes (this allows the flour to hydrate and gluten to begin to form gently while the yeast activates). 

Step 2

Measure ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons of the rosemary leaves and coarsely chop. Set the remaining 2 tablespoons of unchopped leaves aside for topping.

Step 3

Uncover the bowl, add the salt and 2 tablespoons of the oil, and mix on low speed until fully incorporated, 3–4 minutes. Turn the mixer to second speed and mix until the dough is smooth and shiny, 3–4 minutes more. Turn the mixer back down to low, add the chopped rosemary, and continue mixing just until the leaves are evenly distributed, about 1 minute. Turn off the mixer.

Step 4

 Lightly flour a clean work surface, turn the dough out onto it, and form into a smooth ball. Lightly oil a large, clean bowl, place the dough in it, and cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Set aside to rise in a warm place until the dough is puffed, gassy, and not quite doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

Step 5

Grease a 9- by 13-inch rimmed baking sheet or cake pan with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet and press down to an even layer (the dough won’t yet reach the edges of the pan.) Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside until puffed and bubbly, about 1 hour.

Step 6

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400°F. Uncover the dough and use your fingertips to lightly dimple and stretch it until it reaches the edges of the pan. Arrange the lemon slices and remaining 2 tablespoons of the rosemary evenly over the surface, pressing the lemon slices down gently to adhere. Brush with the remaining olive oil, sprinkle to taste with coarse or flakey salt, and bake until golden, 35–40 minutes.

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