This was made by request for my lovely son Cormac when he was home for spring break a few weeks ago. I started off his break with my go-to, Classic French Bread from Peter Reinhart’s excellent Artisan Breads Every Day; this Pain à l’Ancienne Focaccia from the same book was the follow-up later in the week. Lea of Lea & Jay wrote an excellent post about their experience making (and eating) this focaccia, and included the recipe, here. As with all recipes in this book, you do have to mix the dough the night before and leave it to retard overnight in the refrigerator, so as long as you allow time for that, you’re golden.
I’ll mention that I did not alter the recipe from the original (as I so often do). I chose not to make the suggested herb oil to top the bread, but instead opted for the quick and easy way out. Right before putting the dough in the oven to bake, I topped it with Trader Joe’s Himalayan Pink Salt (applied with some restraint), as well as garlic powder and freshly ground dried mixed Italian herbs (both somewhat liberally). My rationale behind selecting the dried flavorings over fresh was that they’d be less likely to scorch during baking than if I were to simply sprinkle fresh garlic and herbs on top. It was not at all because I was feeling lazy.
I found that the focaccia didn’t rise as much as I would’ve expected, especially given that I gave it plenty of time for a final proof and in a warm environment at that, which is sometimes a struggle during cooler months. But there were no complaints from the peanut gallery. All three of my guys loved it — especially Cormac, who ate it for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack time until it was gone.