Dill Focaccia Bread

Dill Focaccia Bread
Dill Focaccia Bread

Dill Seed is not just for pickles. It’s a complex and aromatic spice, a hearty fusion of anise and caraway, with a lofty essence that emanates from it in a heady cloud. Because it’s inherently robust, Dill Seed can stand up to bold foods and assertive textures. With that in mind, we started to think about bread.

Indian breads, like roti or paratha, are often flavored with both dill seeds and dill weed, showcasing the spectacular range of flavors that dill can provide. We wanted something more heft than a flatbread that could still feature dill. Originally, we looked at a cottage cheese bread, but that created too many competing flavors and didn’t shine a spotlight on dill seed. Then we hit upon the idea of focaccia. Rich, chewy, but surprisingly light and playful, a well-risen, airy focaccia can mimic the way the fragrance of dill rises. Our test kitchen accepted the challenge; it was like it was meant to be. In no time at all we had a recipe for a focaccia studded with dill seeds that is easy to make and difficult to stay away from.

Dimpling focaccia dough is a signature characteristic of this bread; you do it across the entire surface of the bread before it goes into the oven to make sure the bread will cook evenly. Because these dimples cover the bread, they help to uniformly release the carbon dioxide created by the yeast that makes the dough rise. Don’t sink your fingers all the way down to the very bottom of the bread; the objective is to vent the bread from the top, not tear it at the bottom, which can cause the bottom to steam. And wet your fingers before creating the dimples. We used olive oil here, but you can also use water. This is to prevent the holes in the bread from sealing back up. It’s a bonus that the dimples create little wells that can hold delicious olive oil as the bread bakes.

We don’t recommend using any other kind of flour besides all-purpose (AP) flour. Switching to whole wheat flour could impact the texture of this bread; focaccia straddles a tenuous line between filling and dense, and whole wheat flour could easily tip it over and make it too dense. Should you use bread flour, then? Also no. The higher protein content in bread flour means there’s more gluten, which leads to a chewier bread. This might sound desirable, but again, we have to consider the way that focaccia carves a narrow path between delightful and too much of a good thing. Focaccia that’s too chewy can readily become exhausting, requiring more work to eat than it was to make. Stick with AP flour; it forms a pleasant crust, creates a lightly textured crumb, and won’t form strong glutinous bonds that you’ve got to gnaw through.

When you start preparing the garlic butter, remember that it’s important not to let the garlic get too hot. It should just start to turn soft, sweet, and fragrant in its warm butter bath before adding the Dill Weed. Browned garlic always runs perilously close to scorched garlic, which will permeate everything it touches with a harsh flavor. Keep the heat under the butter gentle and turn the heat off just as the fragrance starts to rise.

Serve this bread cut into any size square or wedge you prefer. Of course you can slice big squares of focaccia in half for a super-fancy sandwich. You could also include it sliced or cubed as part of a charcuterie board, or with an array of cheese and some honey-butter. If you have any left after a day or two, cut the focaccia into small squares and brown in the oven for the best croutons you’ve ever had in your life. Enjoy!

 Print Recipe

Category: Side Dishes, Baking
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast (¼ oz) (2 1/2 tsp)
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 5 cups all-purpose (AP) flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Dill Seed
  • 1 Tablespoon + 2 teaspoons Dill Weed, divided
  • 6 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
  • 2 finely minced garlic cloves

1. In a medium-size bowl, combine yeast, honey, and water. Whisk to combine. Let sit for 5 minutes for yeast to activate.

2. Add flour, salt, dill seed, and dill weed to the yeast mixture and stir until the flour is fully incorporated.

3. In a separate bowl, add 5 Tablespoons of olive oil, then add the dough and turn with your hands until oil covers the dough. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours and no more than 24 hours.

4. Liberally butter a 13x9 inch baking pan and transfer the dough to the baking pan. Add the remaining olive oil to the dough. Turn the dough to deflate it, gently stretching and pushing it into the edges and corners of your pan. Allow the dough to rest, uncovered, in a warm spot for 2 to 3 hours or until it has almost doubled in size.

5. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

6. When the dough is ready for the oven, rub some olive oil on your fingers and sink them repeatedly into the dough, across the entire surface of the bread. This will create a series of 1-inch deep dimples that will help vent the bread and ensure even cooking.

7. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the focaccia is golden brown.

8. While bread is baking, heat butter in a small saucepan and briefly sauté garlic, but do not brown. Add dill weed and remove from the heat.

9. Brush bread with dill-garlic butter and allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes.