Focaccia Rolls

Don't let the simple name fool you — this is the easiest and most flavor-packed bread you will make. It's based on this classic focaccia recipe, but turnt all the way up with an additive rosemary, lemon, garlic, and parmesan topping.

A few bread making tips: Don't get your warm water ready until you're ready to put the yeast in it. For easy reference, the water should be just hotter than body temperature; it should just register as warm to your fingertips. Be sure to knead the dough the full 10 minutes, this builds a wonderful toothsome texture. Lastly, don't be scared to let the topping get good and dark, it needs this level of caramelization to become a tasty counterpart to the rich bread.

Yields 16 larger rolls, 32 smaller.

  • 2 cups warm water, 100 to 110°F
  • 2 teaspoons or one packet active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons honey or sugar
  • 5½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¼ cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil, plus more
  • ⅓ lemon
  • 4 big sprigs rosemary
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • ¼ to ½ cup grated or ground good quality Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon flake salt
  • ½ teaspoon coarsely-ground black or white pepper
  1. Pour the warm water into a bowl or measuring cup and stir in the yeast and honey or sugar. Let stand until the yeast proofs and forms a raft, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine 4½ cups flour and salt. With the machine running on medium-low (speed 3 on a Kitchen-Aid), pour in the proofed yeast mixture and blend well until combined and very sticky. Reduce speed to low (speed 2 on a Kitchen-Aid) and knead for 10 minutes.
  3. After 10 minutes, if the dough is still very sticky, add flour ¼ cup at a time with the machine running, letting it fully incorporate between additions. You want a dough that is still slightly sticky, but able to be handled.
  4. Turn dough out into a large bowl and add olive oil, turning to coat completely. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled, around 45 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, slice the lemon into thin lengthwise crescents, then thinly slice crosswise into small chunks. Stem and roughly chop the rosemary. Smash then roughly chop the garlic into small-ish bits. In a small bowl, toss the lemon, garlic, and rosemary together.
  6. Find a baking dish. I like using two 10-inch cast iron pans because they make a great crust, but really anything except glass (it makes a terrible crust) will do. If you're doing 32 smaller rolls, a double batch (god bless you), or a traditional focaccia shape, you may want to use a baking pan.
  7. Once the dough has doubled in volume, punch down. Pour the olive oil in the bowl into your baking dish and spread it around and up the sides.
  8. If making rolls, weigh then equally divide the dough into portions. For each portion, roll then stretch the dough back on itself, pinching at the bottom to form a sphere. Place in the baking dish, flip to coat the top in oil, then flip back around. You want them touching or very close to each other. If making rolls on a baking sheet, it's easier to work from the middle of the pan out. If making a traditional focaccia round or rectangle, work the dough out into an even thickness.
  9. Once all the dough is placed, sprinkle the parmesan over, followed by the rosemary-garlic-lemon mixture, then flake salt and ground pepper. Be sure to sprinkle all the toppings evenly and completely. If you have big gaps between the rolls, you might want to let them rise first and fill the gaps. Let dough rise again uncovered in a warm area until puffed, about 30 minutes.
  10. While the dough re-rises, preheat an oven to 475°F with a rack in the lower third position. If baking as one single piece of bread in the traditional style, make indentations with your fingertips all over the dough. Bake until deeply browned, about 20 to 25 minutes. The topping will be very dark or burnt, this is desired. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.