Focaccia is an Italian yeast bread that is traditionally baked in sheet pans topped with olive oil, herbs and veggies such as olives. The dough makes a yummy pizza crust or can be shaped into burger buns.
Either way you shape it or slice it, focaccia is delicious and nobody does it better than Joanne Chang from Flour Bakery in Boston, Massachusetts. Her recipe for Rosemary Focaccia in her Flour cookbook had me hooked at first bite. The dough is fast to put together and the turn around from proofing to baking is fairly quick for the bread baking world.
I turned the base of Joanne Chang’s focaccia recipe into hamburger buns one day just for fun. They turned out just as I imagined them to be. These buns are perfect with burgers, lunch meat, Granny Annie’s Sloppy Joes, chicken or anything else you can think to stuff them with.
These buns are a big hit with my kids. So much so there is disappointment in their voices if I tell them their burgers won’t be served on Mom’s buns.
As with all the bread posts at the Bell House, the bread can be frozen, thawed and refreshed for all your sandwich eating pleasures. I will also note that having a kitchen scale to measure your ingredients for bread making is highly suggested.
SALT AND PEPPER FOCACCIA ROLLS:
Active Time: 25 minutes
Inactive time: 3 hours
Yields: 12-3.5 ounce rolls
420 grams or 1 3/4 cup of water, body temperature*
1 teaspoon of active yeast, I use Fleischmann’s
490 grams or 3 1/2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
190 grams or 1 1/4 cups of bread flour
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt + 2 teaspoons of Kosher salt
2 tablespoons of sugar
100 grams or 1/2 cup of olive oil + 50 grams or 1/4 cup of olive oil
Medium coarse yellow cornmeal
Salt and pepper
In a stand mixer with a dough hook attached, combine the water and the yeast and let it sit while you measure the rest of your ingredients.
*Stick your finger into the water, if it is neither hot nor cold, then consider the water body temperature.
PREPARATION TIP: If you find yourself without a stand mixer, each step can be done by hand, it will just take a little longer.
In a large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, bread flour, 1 teaspoon Kosher salt and 2 tablespoons sugar. Dump the mixture into the water and turn the mixer on low for about 30 seconds. The dough will start to look shaggy.
At this point, slowly pour the 100 grams or 1/2 cup of olive oil into the bowl.
With the mixer on low speed, continue to knead the dough for 4-5 minutes. The dough will be sticky, but have a smooth surface. Joanne Chang says to pinch the dough and if it feels like an earlobe, the dough is ready. If the dough is tougher, add a tablespoon of water. If the dough is loose, add a tablespoon of flour. However, if you used the kitchen scale, you should have little problem with the dough coming out less than perfect.
PREPARATION TIP: If you are without a stand mixer, add the olive oil a little at a time to the bowl and mix by hand. When all the olive oil has been added and the dough has absorbed the oil, dump the dough onto a well floured surface and knead the dough for 5-8 minutes.
Lightly oil a large bowl with cooking spray. Dump the focaccia dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set the dough in a warm, draft free place for the next 2 hours.
The dough should double in bulk.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and position the rack in the middle of the oven. Dust your baking sheet with a handful of the yellow cornmeal.
Lightly flour a clean surface and gently roll the dough onto the surface. Here is where the kitchen scale is going to come in handy again. In order to have buns consistent in size, weigh out 3.5 ounces for each dough ball.
Fold each piece of dough into a ball. Click here for the video for the Burger Buns on the BELL-VI-DEO page. You will see how to fold the dough into balls.
Place the dough balls on the baking sheet dusted with cornmeal. Once you have used up all your dough, cover the dough with a greased plastic wrap and let sit in a warm, draft free place for the next 45-60 minutes. The time will depend on how warm your area is. I notice that resting time for the dough is less in the summer and usually takes up the full 60 minutes in the winter.
While the dough balls are resting, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. You want your oven to be the perfect temperature and preheating your oven for at least 30 minutes will aid in the rise of these buns.
When the time is up, brush the dough balls with the remaining 50 grams or 1/4 cup of olive oil.
Then sprinkle the tops of each dough ball with the remaining 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.
Bake the dough balls for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
Let the dough balls cool completely before eating or packing away in the freezer for later use.
PREPARATION TIP: If you’ve tightly wrapped your buns in plastic wrap and stored them in a freezer bag for later use, pull the amount of buns you want to consume from the freezer and let them thaw between a ktichen towel for about an hour. You can also defrost them in the microwave for a few seconds if you are in a rush. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the buns in the oven for 3-5 minutes. This is called “refresh.” These buns will taste just as fresh as the day they were baked.