The first time I attempted Jim Lahey’s no-knead focaccia, it was a miserable failure. The baked bread stuck to the pan so badly, I couldn’t pry, scrape, or hack it out of the sheet pan. The entire loaf went into the trash, pan and all. What made it stick? The dough is quite wet, but it’s not the hydration that’s the culprit–it’s the potato starch.
Lahey’s recipe calls for 200 grams of peeled potato, boiled in 600 grams of water, pureed, and then added to the dough. The potato starch adds flavor and tenderizes the focaccia, but it also makes the dough behave a bit like wall plaster: friendly when wet, but impossible to remove once baked dry.
Two new sheet pans later, I decided to try baking this loaf again. This time, I used parchment paper to line the pans, then oiled the parchment for good measure. It worked like a charm, and the olive-topped focaccia rose high enough to be split & used for sandwiches.
Note: I’ve decided to use metric weight measurement in baking recipes; it’s more precise and easier to calculate when halving or doubling recipes.
- 200 grams peeled potato, cut into chunks
- 600 grams cool water
- 600 grams bread flour
- 10 grams instant yeast
- 4 grams sugar
- 10 grams table salt
- 60 grams extra-virgin olive oil (for oiling the pan and drizzling atop the dough)
- a generous handful pitted olives, roughly chopped
Place potatoes and water in a small saucepan. Boil until potatoes are very soft, then puree using an immersion blender. Cool to 120 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, sugar, and half of the salt. Using a wooden spoon, stir until a wet, sticky dough forms (about 1 minute of stirring). Cover the bowl and rest at room temperature until the dough triples in size (2-3 hours).
Line a half-sheet pan (18 inches by 13 inches) with parchment. Lightly oil the parchment. Scrape the risen dough gently onto the parchment-lined pan. Stretch it to fit the pan, using oiled hands. Press deep dimples into the dough with your fingertips or knuckles. Drizzle oil atop the dough and sprinkle with remaining salt and chopped olives. Set aside in a draft-free location and rest for at least an hour, or until the dough just barely rises above the rim of the baking sheet. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes in a pre-heated, 400-degree oven.