Even if you’ve never baked a loaf of bread in your life, Italian Focaccia Bread is an easy, forgiving, and extremely delicious way to dabble. The famous flatbread is spongy on the inside, yet delightfully salty-crusty on the outside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fit with the dough attachment, add water, sugar, and yeast. Stir to dissolve yeast and let sit until foamy, about 5 to 10 minutes.
With the mixer running on medium speed, add the flour 1/2 cup at a time. Add the salt and continue kneading until dough is smooth, about 6 to 10 minutes.
Coat a large bowl with nonstick spray. Turn out the dough, shape into a ball, and place in prepared bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place (80 degrees to 85 degrees, see notes) until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Oil a rimmed half baking sheet (13" x 18" x 1"). Punch down the dough, then flatten onto prepared sheet (it should be no more than 1 inch thick). Brush the top of the dough with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Let rise in a warm place (80 degrees to 85 degrees, see notes) until doubled in volume, about 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Dimple the surface of the dough with your fingertips, then brush the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over the dough. Sprinkle with rosemary and flaked sea salt to taste. Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
Cut the focaccia as desired (strips or squares are common). I like to do 24 pieces, each about 2 1/2 x 3 inches in size.
To create a warm environment ideal for yeast-rising:
Preheat your oven to its minimum temperature (170 degrees, 200 degrees, etc.), but shut it off once the temperature reaches 110 degrees.
Place your dough (in a greased bowl, covered with plastic wrap), on a baking sheet and in the oven. The oven temperature will drop when you open the oven door, but enough residual heat will remain that your dough should steadily rise.
For even more flavor and texture, add 3 ounces finely chopped onions to the dough when you add the salt in step 2.