Saltwater Brine Is the Secret to Chef Samin Nosrat's Focaccia Bread

Get some unexpected bread tips from chef and cookbook author Samin Nosrat in this complete guide to your best-ever loaf of focaccia bread.

In one of the most mouthwatering scenes of chef Samin Nosrat's Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat on Netflix (the stunning docuseries inspired by her cookbook; $17, Amazon), Nosrat gently presses her fingers into the moist doughy, bubbly loaf of homemade focaccia as it settles into a sheet pan and prepares for its final coat of olive oil and a shift in the oven. The dough is so marshmallow-y in texture, it's simply glowing under that olive oil, and is so clearly well-proofed that I wanted to jump through the screen and help Nosrat finish baking—oh yes, and devouring—the loaf right in the Italian kitchen near where she harvested the olives to make the oil.

This homemade focaccia recipe was not your typical focaccia, though. So what made Samin Nosrat's focaccia taste better than the loaves we know from the baskets that adorn Italian-American restaurant tables? Read on for the scoop.

No-Knead Skillet Focaccia
Jacob Fox

The No. 1 Trick to Make the Best Focaccia Bread

Nosrat is an advocate of focaccia bread that's made the way it has been for centuries in Liguria, Italy, the possible birthplace of focaccia. (Translated from Italian, "focaccia" means focus, referring to the position of the hearth or fireplace as the center of the home.) This style of focaccia bread is never taller than two inches once baked and is slathered in fruity, rich olive oil ($30, Amazon). The result: An airy, fluffy crumb, a crunchy crust, and an irresistibly yeasty and salty flavor.

Even though this homemade focaccia recipe appeared in the "Fat" episode of the series, that final element— "salty"—is a vital feature to bake your best focaccia bread, according to Nosrat and countless Ligurian bakers.

The key element that differentiates the Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat focaccia from other homemade focaccias is a focaccia bread brine. That's right, just as you might brine a turkey before roasting it for Thanksgiving, the Ligurian method calls for pouring a salt and water brine over the dough just before its final proofing. As the dough rises a final time, it bubbles around the brine to soak it all into the bread. This results in the dreamiest, complex-tasting, just-salty-enough flavor. Yes, it will look wet. But trust the process—and the pros!

Get the recipe: Samin Nosrat's Ligurian Focaccia

How to Make Homemade Focaccia the Samin Nosrat Way

Mix together a basic yeast bread dough, including yeast, honey, water, flour, salt, and olive oil. Use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt ($10, Amazon) for well-balanced flavor, Nosrat suggests. Stir together just until the dough is combined yet shaggy-looking, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the focaccia to double in volume, which takes about 12 hours.

In a large rimmed baking sheet ($16, Target), add some olive oil, top with the puffy dough, finish with a splash more olive oil, then press the dough out evenly across the pan. Stretch gently from the edges as needed. Dimple the dough by pressing the pads of your fingertips in at an angle, then pour on the focaccia bread brine made with 1½ teaspoons Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt and ⅓ cup lukewarm water. Make sure the brine soaks into the dimples, then allow the dough to proof once more for about 45 minutes until the dough is bubbly.

Sprinkle the top with flaky salt ($9, Amazon) and bake until golden, about 30 minutes. Remove the focaccia from the oven and brush with a final light coating of olive oil (it's really becoming clear as to why this was in the "Fat" episode!). After 5 minutes, remove the cooked loaf from the pan and transfer it to a cooling rack, allow to cool completely, then dive in.

While the Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat focaccia was specifically designed for that ratio of flour to brine, chances are, you could try a similar technique on any focaccia like our No-Knead Skillet Focaccia, Rosemary-Pumpkin Prosciutto Focaccia, or Herbed Focaccia, just adjusting the amount of focaccia bread brine accordingly based on the cups of flour called for in the recipe.

I don't know about you, but I'm already looking forward to whipping up this recipe!

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles