For many of us, we dread working with yeast and making homemade bread. Also, it’s so easy to just pick up a loaf just about anywhere. So with all that working against us, why even bother? I’ll tell you why, because this recipe is so easy, so quick with my proofing hack, and so good, you’ll never want to pick up store bought!
Focaccia breads are one of the easiest to throw together. You can leave them in the fridge to proof overnight, or you can even do 1hr recipes. However, I’ve tried both the quicker version and the overnight method, and I promise you, the overnight method yields a much better final product! Worried about all the oil? Don’t be. If you want to create the prefect focaccia bread you need oil for texture and to prevent it from sticking to the pan.
What’s great about this bread? Everything! It’s quick, easy, affordable, is made with just white flour, requires no kneading, you can mix up the add ins, you top with parmesan cheese or nuts if desired, it’s perfect for any season, the texture is perfection, thick, has the perfect crust, is buttery soft, has rich notes of pesto, aesthetically gorgeous, pairs perfectly with a little butter and salt, and is just the most seamless focaccia recipe!
If you’re not a bread making person, but love a fresh loaf, you have to give this recipe a try. I promise you, you’re going to love this No Knead Pesto Focaccia!
Whisk one ¼-oz. envelope active dry yeast (about 2¼ tsp.), 2 tsp. sugar, and 2½ cups lukewarm water in a medium bowl and let sit 5 minutes (it should foam or at least get creamy; if it doesn’t your yeast is dead and you should start again—check the expiration date!)
Add 5 cups (625 g) all-purpose flour and 5 tsp. salt and mix with a rubber spatula until a shaggy dough forms and no dry streaks remain.
Pour 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil into a big bowl that will fit in your refrigerator. Transfer dough to bowl and turn to coat in oil. Cover with a silicone lid or plastic wrap and chill until dough is doubled in size (it should look very bubbly and alive), at least 8 hours and up to 1 day. If you’re in a rush, you can also let it rise at room temperature until doubled in size, 3–4 hours.
Generously butter a 13×9″ baking pan, for thicker focaccia that’s perfect for sandwiches, or an 18×13″ rimmed baking sheet, for focaccia that’s thinner, crispier, and great for snacking. Pour 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil into center of pan. Keeping the dough in the bowl and using a fork in each hand, gather up edges of dough farthest from you and lift up and over into center of bowl like your folding in. Give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat process. Do this 2 more times; you want to deflate dough while you form it into a rough ball.
Transfer dough to the prepared pan. Pour any oil left in bowl over and turn dough to coat it in oil. Let rise, uncovered, in a dry, warm spot (on top of preheating oven) until doubled in size, at least 1½ hours and up to 4 hours.
Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 450°. To see if the dough is ready, poke it with your finger. It should spring back slowly, leaving a small visible indentation. If it springs back quickly, the dough isn’t ready. (If at this point the dough is ready to bake but you aren’t, you can chill it up to 1 hour.)
Lightly oil your hands. If using a rimmed baking sheet, gently stretch out dough to fill (you probably won’t need to do this if using a baking pan). Dimple focaccia all over with your fingers, like you’re aggressively playing the piano, creating very deep depressions in the dough (reach your fingers all the way to the bottom of the pan).
Spread the pesto all over the bread making sure they are evenly distributed. Drizzle with remaining 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Bake focaccia until puffed and golden brown all over, 20–30 minutes. Rotate the pan mid bake.