The Very Best Easy Paleo Focaccia
The easiest gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free focaccia with the very best flavor and texture!
For the printable recipe click here.
For a long time I settled for simply gluten free and not grain free when it came to breads--especially yeasted ones. I figured gluten free was challenging enough, so when I found an amazing recipe for gluten-free focaccia, it became my go-to.
Perhaps, like me, you thought a yeasted paleo focaccia couldn't be done--or at least not done well.
Recently, however, when I ran out of my go-to gluten-free bread-flour mixture, I figured, why not just try to make it full-paleo and see what happens?
To say we were pleasantly surprised with the result was an understatement. The Focaccia was picture-perfect and delicious--and even easier to make than before!
Going from just gluten-free to full-paleo
Anything that is paleo is automatically gluten free; however, things that are gluten free may still contain non-gluten grains such as rice, corn, or sorghum.
To make the shift to a fully grain-free focaccia recipe, I used my favorite gluten-free focaccia recipe from Mama Knows Gluten Free as a base and replaced the gluten-free flour with a mixture of cassava flour, almond flour, potato starch, and just a tiny bit of xanthan gum to help with the structure--this is more important in yeast breads than it would be in, say, a brownie.
To answer a common question, while they do come from the same plant, cassava flour and tapioca starch are not the same product, and cassava is the one I prefer here. For more info on cassava flour, check out this post. Also be sure to use potato starch, not potato flour, as those are also not necessarily interchangeable products.
I do not use coconut flour in this recipe, as it yields a drier consistency and mouthfeel than what I look for in a good, springy focaccia.
Is this paleo focaccia yeasted?
Yes, this focaccia is a yeasted bread, just like traditional Italian focaccia made with wheat flour. However, while traditional focaccia is a pre-ferment bread (meaning a flour, water, and yeast mixture gets a several-hour head start on the fermentation process before the rest of the dough gets mixed up), this easy recipe skips that step.
This bread gets a little help in the leavening department from baking powder, which helps with its quick rise. Some baking powders contain cornstarch, so if being completely grain-free is important to you, make sure you use a grain-free version.
Longer fermentation times usually lead to stronger flavors, so this quick and easy version gets a little flavor boost from apple cider vinegar, which complements the taste of the yeast in this quick-rising dough.
Make sure you have a relatively warm place for your dough to rise--an oven with a "proof" setting is ideal. Fermentation is most efficient at warmer temperatures, so this helps keep the proof time short. Just don't go too hot--you're not trying to bake it yet!
Keeping it simple
One more ease-increasing feature of this recipe is that instead of transferring the dough to a large greased bowl to do its rising, you will transfer it directly to it's baking dish! The batter-like dough spreads out perfectly in a heavily greased 9x13" Pyrex casserole dish with just the right amount of space to rise.
I rub about 1 tablespoon of olive oil all along the bottom and sides of the pan before pouring the dough in, then drizzle or spray a little more on top before covering.
Bonus: if your dish came with a lid, you can use that to cover it for proofing instead of plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel.
Does it matter what kind of yeast you use?
I use Red Star active dry yeast. I buy the kind that comes in a little jar, and I store it in the fridge to keep it fresh. The gluten-free focaccia recipe I based this paleo recipe on actually calls for rapid rise/instant yeast, and that recipe uses a little less than I do.
Technically, when you use active dry yeast like I do, you should test it in a little warm water first to make sure it dissolves and puffs up like it ought to. I never do this anymore. One day it will probably come back to bite me, but so far I've had no problems. If you are concerned that your active dry yeast might be dead, please mix some with a little warm water, and wait about 5 minutes to make sure it bubbles and puffs. Or substitute 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast for the 2 3/4 active dry I call for.
Is this recipe vegan?
Yes! With no eggs and no dairy, this easy paleo focaccia bread is very vegan-friendly, as long as you opt for coconut sugar or maple syrup instead of honey. Of course, you could leave the sugar out altogether, but it increases the depth of flavor, feeds the yeast, and helps with browning--so I wouldn't skip it!
Uses and variations
Just like the real thing, this focaccia is super-versatile.
My gold standard is rosemary focaccia bread. I prefer dried over fresh rosemary, but you could use whichever speaks to you more. I love to sprinkle dried rosemary, freshly cracked black pepper, and coarse sea salt all over the surface before baking.
Caramelized onions sprinkled over the top before baking or used as a dip or spread after baking is a full-flavored adventure in sweet and savory, while thinly sliced red bell peppers and green olives make an impressive (and festive) topping as well.
I use regular olive oil in the recipe, but extra virgin olive oil poured over salt, crushed red pepper, and finely chopped basil and parsley (or your favorite herbs) and mixed up in a small bowl makes the perfect focaccia dip.
What about pizza and panini?
The 9x13" Pyrex casserole dish I call for in the recipe yields focaccia pieces just thick enough to slice in half for sandwich bread. Dreaming of the perfect panini? You got it! Try pesto, arugula, and prosciutto, or keep it simple with your favorite paleo-friendly dairy-free cheese!
For best results, make sure the focaccia has cooled completely before slicing pieces in half for sandwiches, and use a large, serrated knife to do the slicing.
If you want to use this focaccia recipe as more of a pizza crust, start with a larger rimmed pan and spread the dough out more. Cook for about 20 minutes before adding sauce and toppings, then finish cooking. Decrease overall cook time by 5-10 minutes when making a thinner, more spread out focaccia.
Store any leftover focaccia in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one day or in the fridge for up to one week. The salt on the top of the bread sometimes draws moisture to the surface, which could be a problem if it pools at room temperature for too long.
Gently toast leftover focaccia in the oven or toaster oven to bring it back to first-day goodness!
Alternatively, grind up leftover focaccia into small crumbs in the food processor and store in an airtight plastic bag in the freezer to use in any recipe that calls for breadcrumbs.
Here's what you'll need:
2 cups cassava flour
1 cup almond flour
½ cup potato starch
½ tsp xanthan gum
2 ¾ tsp active dry yeast
1 T baking powder
2 cups warm water
1 T honey (maple syrup or coconut sugar for vegan)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
½ cup olive oil
1 ¼ tsp kosher salt or semi-coarse sea salt, divided
Extra olive oil for the pan and top of dough
Black pepper and dried rosemary for sprinkling
Here's what you'll do:
Preheat your oven to its lowest setting and then turn the oven off, or set it to proof if you have that option. Heavily grease the bottom and sides of a 9x11” Pyrex baking dish with olive oil.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the cassava flour, almond flour, potato starch, xanthan gum, yeast, and baking powder.
Add the liquid ingredients (warm water, honey or coconut sugar, cider vinegar, and olive oil) to the dry ingredients and beat with the paddle attachment, starting on low speed and gradually increasing to medium and high, till very well blended, about 2 minutes. Add 1 tsp salt, and beat to incorporate, about 30 seconds.
Use a silicone scraper/spatula to scrape the dough into the prepared pan, spreading it out like cake batter. Drizzle a little more olive oil over the top, or spray evenly with olive-oil spray. Cover with plastic wrap, or if your dish has a lid, use that. Place in the slightly warm oven and proof for 20 minutes.
Take the pan out and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Uncover the dough and use your fingers to lightly press little dimples all over the surface. Drizzle a little more olive oil over the top of the dough so that it catches in some of the dimples, and sprinkle with remaining salt, pepper, and rosemary.
Once the oven has come up to temperature, bake the focaccia for 35-40 minutes, till deep golden brown across the top. Allow to cool completely. Use a metal bench scraper to cut the focaccia into desired sized pieces. Run a knife along the edges to release the sides from the pan, and use a metal spatula to release the bottom from the pan.
For the printable recipe click here.
Also check out these other yummy paleo recipes!