This is far and away the best focaccia I've ever tasted, and it's all about the oil! The recipe may look like a lot, but it's not difficult. The hardest part will be keeping yourself from eating the focaccia as soon as it comes out of the oven! I encourage you to wait, but don't hesitate to cut into it while it's still warm!!!
Note: You need to begin the starter (or biga) the day before. Then, begin making the dough about 4 - 5 hours before you want to bake it off.
Tuscan Herb Focaccia
1/16 t. active dry yeast (you will need one package total, so set the remaining yeast aside for use later)
1/2 C. water
1/2 C. plus 2 T. all purpose flour
In a small mixing bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the water. Let it rest for 5 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour until thoroughly combined. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside until the sponge becomes bubbly and thick. This will take 12 - 24 hours.
Just after mixing
After 20 hours
1 C. water
1/4 C. Fustini's Tuscan Herb Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 C. of the biga
The remaining yeast from the package
3 1/3 C. all purpose flour
1 T. kosher or sea salt
In a mixer fitted with a dough hook, put the water, Fustini's Tuscan Herb Olive Oil and 1/2 C. biga into the bowl of the stand mixer. Begin mixing on low. Add the yeast and mix for 2 minutes. With the mixer still running, slowly add the salt then increase the speed to medium. Mix on medium for 8 minutes.
While the dough is mixing, lightly oil a large bowl with the Tuscan Herb Olive Oil. Once the dough is mixed, turn it out into the oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm part of the kitchen until doubled, about 2 hours.
Lightly dust the counter and turn the dough out onto the floured surface. It will be rounded but pretend it has four sides. Gently stretch the left side and fold it over toward the center. Gently stretch and fold the top of the dough over onto itself and to the center. Do this same stretch and fold for the bottom and right side. Then turn the dough over and put it back into the bowl folded side down. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm part of the kitchen for 1 hour.
Toppings for Focaccia
1/2 C. Fustini's Tuscan Herb Olive Oil divided, plus more for brushing on top
30 - 40 Kalamata Olives
2 - 3 T chopped fresh rosemary
Coarse salt for sprinkling over the top
Using 2 cake pans, pour 1/4 C Fustini's Tuscan Herb Olive Oil into the bottom of each pan. Make sure the bottoms and sides are coated with oil. Lightly dust the counter and carefully turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Divide the dough in half and put it into the cake pans gently pulling the edges to make it round. It does not need to fill the pan. It's more important that you do not deflate the dough. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.Chop the rosemary and put into a small bowl with 2 - 4 tablespoons of oil.
Before baking, start in the center and push the olives into the dough while pushing the dough outward. As you do this with each olive, the dough will begin to fill in the cake pan. Push them deep. You will use 15 - 20 olives for each loaf. Again, the dough will most likely not fill the cake pan.
Brush the top of each loaf with the rosemary oil. Sprinkle with salt and set the loaves aside to rise one last time. They should sit for 30 minutes.
Bake the loaves in the center of the oven for 30 - 40 minutes. Remove from the pan and brush with a little more oil.
Here's a link to Fustini's: http://www.fustinis.com