One of my biggest baking passions is bread. Theres an art to it. I have spent hours on end many days just experimenting and learning various techniques of bread making. My other big passion is bread eating. And I know I’m not alone in the bread eating love.
There are actual scientific research that has studied the reasons behind why people feel good when they smell it.
According to one study, the aroma of bread makes 89% of people happy (source). 89%?! That is a whole lot of happy that can be made with baking! If you want to read up more on the subject, check this, or this article out. It’s pretty interesting stuff!
This all brings us to the reason for this post today, and here we have a Za’atar spiced Focaccia bread! Focaccia is one of my absolute favorite breads to make. I decided to switch things up for this one by adding Za’atar spice instead of my usual go to add-in, herbs de Provence.
Za’atar is a Mediterranean spice that is commonly used to top pita bread slices with olive oil. The main ingredients that made a za’atar spice blend are thyme, oregano, sumac, salt , and sesame seeds. There are many variations on this, but these are the basics and the ones I use when making my own.
Focaccia is a traditional Italian flat bread that contains a good amount of olive oil and is seasoned with dried herbs or spices. The result? A flavorful and aromatic soft flat bread with a soft crust.
I chose to add in Za’atar spice for this recipe, although you can choose whatever herbs and spices you want. Just replace the same amount of Za’atar with your desired add-ins. Think rosemary to keep it traditional, or herbs de Provence, dried oregano, or even sesame seeds. You may choose to not add any spices and let the bread be more versatile with how you use it once baked.
Ingredients are minimal and you likely have them on hand already.
Start with about 3 1/2 cups of flour and increase as needed up to 4 1/4. I ended up using a full 4 1/4 cups of flour. The amount you use will depend on the type of flour you use, the brand, and the temperature/humidity of where you are.
We whisk the flour with the yeast and salt (no need to make a poolish starter here!) and then slowly add the water and olive oil until a semi-wet dough is formed. Then just cover and let it rest for a couple of hours. Easy!
After the first rise, you knead it about 15 times and add in Za’atar or desired herbs and spread out into a baking pan lined with parchment paper.
Let that rest again for 30-45 minutes while the oven preheats. Make sure to give your oven plenty of time to get hot. The key to good bread is (aside from a good yeast and quality flour) is the right environment in your oven.
Once the oven is hot enough and the dough has had enough time to rise a second time in your baking pan, we make small indentations on the bread with olive oil-dipped fingers, like this:
Doing this helps to create a better textured bread by allowing air in and allowing it to rise properly in the oven.
After that, just pop the pan into the oven and set your timer for 40 minutes. The result is a beautifully golden and lightly Za’atar flavored focaccia bread.
Behold the za’atar spiced vegan focaccia bread! This bread is soft on the inside, soft edges, and full of beautiful aroma from the olive oil and za’atar spices. Easy to make and keeps well for at least 3 days on the counter.
- 4 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour (start with 3 1/2 cups and work your way up as needed)
- 1 tsp active yeast
- 1 tsp salt (I used pink Himalayan sea salt)
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 TBSP Za’atar or desired herbs/spices
- In a large bowl, whisk together 3 1/2 cups flour with yeast and salt. Slowly add water 1/2 cup at a time while mixing with a wooden spoon.
- Slowly pour in olive oil and mix to fully incorporate.
- If dough is sticky and wet, add more flour in 1/2 cup increments until you get a semi-wet but non-sticky dough.
- Place on counter in a warm area of your kitchen and cover with a clean dish towel. Let sit for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- After rising, the dough should have doubled.
- Roll out dough onto a clean surface thats been sprinkled with flour to prevent sticking.
- Pour on Za’atar or other herbs and knead about 15 times until spice looks well incorporated.
- In a baking pan lined with parchment paper, place dough and slowly stretch out until its covered the whole surface.
- Dip fingers into a little olive oil and press 3 middle fingers into the bread slowly with pressure to form small indentations in the dough.
- Let dough rise again for about 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat oven to 350 F.
- Place pan in oven and set timer for 40 minutes. Depending on your oven, the cooking time could be slightly more or less. Keep an eye on the bread after 35 minutes to ensure it does not overcook.
- You’ll know it’s done when the top looks golden and has a solid surface.
- Remove from oven and let cool slightly before slicing.
- Enjoy as a sandwich bread or just as is!
- This bread will keep on the counter wrapped in plastic or a clean dish towel for several days.