This is the starting point for many focaccias, and owes its crisp-yet-tender texture to an olive oil-water topping used by Ligurian bakers. Once you have mastered the recipe, use it for the focaccias on these pages, or invent your own.
For the dough:
2 teaspoons instant yeast 2 1/4 pounds unbleached all-purpose flour 2 tablespoons sea salt 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra
For the topping:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1 teaspoon sea salt
Make the dough: Combine the yeast, flour, and salt in a food processor. With the motor running, add 11/2 cups of warm (110°) water. Add the olive oil with the motor running, and then add enough warm water to make a soft dough that does not stick to the sides of the bowl. Process 45 seconds. Place in an oiled bowl; wrap; let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. (Or let it rise in the refrigerator for 24 hours; return to room temperature before proceeding.)
Cut the dough in two. Place in 2 oiled 11" x 17" baking sheets. Push with your fingers until it extends to the sides of the sheets (you may need to wait 5 minutes for the dough to stretch easily).
Make the topping: Mix the olive oil with 1/4 cup of room-temperature water and the salt. Pour over the focaccias. Dimple with your fingers; let rise at room temperature for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 475°.
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