This Gluten Free Focaccia Bread with Olives, Lemon, and Herbs is easy, delicious, and can be ready to eat in no time! This base focaccia recipe is spot on, and you can substitute your favorite toppings!
The Focaccia Bread – Gluten Free
Focaccia has always been one of my favorite GF bread recipes to make! It’s been a while, but I’m pretty sure it was the first gluten free bread that I ever baked successfully! Playing with the ingredients, trying to lighten the density, or increase the size of the air pockets has been a fun pass time. The most fun part is getting creative adorning the top with whichever ingredients you love! While a deliciously traditional focaccia with rosemary, parmesan, and cracked pepper would be considered “homie”, this herby, lemon, olive focaccia brings about a bright, delicious flavor.
Part of my focaccia passion comes from watching my mother and aunts make it. They all made it look so simple, especially Chris of Cafe Sucre Farine. I think I may have been subconsciously mimicking her as I just realized she has a Lemon, Rosemary, Thyme Focaccia on her site! The process was mind blowing: pull out the dough, sprinkle the olive oil, finger press here and there, let it rise, sprinkle with ingredients, and bake! Every time, beautiful focaccias would emerge from their ovens.
Originally, my gluten free focaccia bread dough contained my own blend of brown rice flour, tapioca flour, cornstarch, and potato starch. I quickly realized that, for most people, that’s too many ingredients! Nobody wants or has cupboards full of different flours, especially if you’re a weekend warrior baker. With a decent amount of ease, I’ve managed to adapt the recipe to a 1 for 1 gluten free flour mix! It tastes just as delicious and doesn’t require so much measuring. If you don’t have a favorite gluten free flour blend, I would highly suggest King Arthur Measure for Measure Gluten Free Blend. (this is not paid advertisement, it’s just a great versatile flour blend!)
Patience is a Virtue of Baking
I really don’t like waiting, but when using yeast there really isn’t much of an option. Actually, there are two options when making gluten free focaccia bread… First, make your dough and let it rise for 2 hours, plus another 30 minutes before baking. Second, 20 minute rest, refrigerate your dough overnight, then a 1 hour rise.
Let’s discuss the differences:
2 Hour Rise-
I would equate the yeast in a two hour rise to your “quiet quitting” employee. Yes, the work is complete, but just barely. You’re never seeing anything overly impressive and yet there is nothing below satisfactory. In other words, the yeast will consume the carbohydrates, process them, and expel carbon dioxide to help the dough rise. There is nothing wrong with this, but sometimes you realize an employee has so much more potential!
Refrigeration Method- make it ahead
In the refrigeration method, you can equate yeast to the rising star employee (no pun intended). This employee is integral and so good at their job you almost don’t want to lose them to a promotion! Your rising star yeast is just like this. In the first 20 minutes of sitting out, the yeast starts the whole process of consuming carbs and expelling CO2. Additionally, it’s also creating enzymes to help further break down starches.
The refrigeration process slows down and almost stops most of the yeast from further consuming energy, but it still allows the enzymes to work their magic through fermentation. As the starches break down into sugars, you also start to get the acidic sourdough flavors, along with a chewier, crustier bread. I consider it best to refrigerate the dough over that first rise, before transferring and shaping it in your bakeware. Some people would rather shape it first, then let it rise before refrigeration. Doing it the latter gives you less control over your yeast. As the yeast consumes energy, they multiply… What’s easier to control, one kid running circles or an entire classroom running circles?
King Arthur Bread has a good article regarding bread dough refrigeration called, “Can I refrigerate my bread dough and bake it later?” Read it with a grain of salt considering not all things are equal for gluten free dough.
That Crazy Yeast in The Gluten Free Focaccia Bread
Gluten free dough can be finicky and really, it’s the yeast! Prior to going gluten free, I created a sourdough yeast starter, nurtured, and matured it over the past 11 years. Note, for this recipe I used standard bread yeast, more specifically Fleischmann’s Active Dry Yeast. I have since converted the starter to be gluten free, so bread yeast and I know each other rather well. What I’ve learned over the years is that wheat flour/gluten is a heck of a lot more difficult to break down than rice flour or any of the starches that go into a gluten free flour blend. What does this mean to you? It means you can’t be lackadaisical on your rising time with this gluten free focaccia bread. If you extend your rise period much more than the prescribed two hours, you’ll end up with a relatively flat bread. The yeast will literally consume all the energy it can from the dough. What you should be aware of is that heat is an accelerant for yeast. When your dough has been exhausted, your bread yeast has no energy for warpspeed (I mean baking).
Crazy Bread Yeast Information
Along with the aforementioned, this is just some fun information. Did you know yeast multiplies in less than 90 minutes at room temperature? Don’t forget, it still multiplies in the fridge, just at an exponentially slower pace. In a three hour rise, your original yeast will have 3 generations!
Also, elevation and pressure do some crazy things with yeast. I’ve flown with my sourdough yeast in my luggage, it was double bagged and sealed in a mason jar. Somehow that it managed to find its way out through all three layers… and into my clothes
Also, if you’re buying a San Francisco Sourdough Starter, don’t expect it to last long in the original format. With such a short half life, yeast will adapt to new environments creating their own slightly different strain to be most effective. These changes can affect rate of consumption, resilience, and flavor. I’ve neglected my naturally harvested sourdough strain enough that it can go dormant for 6 months between feedings. I’m pretty sure Stevens Sourdough Strain and Twinkies will be a few of the only things to survive a nuclear winter.
Tips and Tricks for Gluten Free Focaccia Bread
- Don’t over salt the dough. Salt is a yeast fermentation inhibitor. The salt draws the needed moisture from the dough required for the yeast’s chemical reaction.
- You can keep your gluten free focaccia bread dough up to 3 days in the fridge before baking.
- Do not incorporate rosemary, thyme, or oregano directly into your dough. One of medicinal qualities of these herbs is to help prevent the growth of yeast and fungus.
- Stale Focaccia? No problem! Wrap your stale focaccia in tinfoil, spritz a tsp of water on the dough, cover with the tinfoil, and bake at 300°F for approximately 7-10 minutes. It’ll rehydrate the dough as if it were fresh out of the oven.. …for the first time!
- Your focaccia should stay fresh for 3-4 days, especially if wrapped in an airtight container.