Focaccia Rolls

Because I write a cooking blog people often assume that I create a new meal from scratch every evening. While I am sure to make meals that rely on fresh ingredients for my family, what really brings me great pleasure is to extend something I’ve made over several meals in new and different ways.

These Focaccia Rolls were created with hot dinner sandwiches in mind. We’d had  Italian beef―a grass fed roast browned and simmered in a prepared garlicky tomato sauce— for Sunday dinner and I wanted to do something new with the leftovers.  Creating these rolls also had another purpose—I needed to relax.  Yesterday was another primary day in the US and I was in a bad mood. I decided to turn off the noise and focus on creating something beautiful. While making yeast bread takes time, a large part of the process is to leave the dough alone to rise. So, I went for a walk and chatted with my neighbor through its first rise. Next, I shaped and filled the rolls and left them for the second rise while I did the other things that needed to be done for dinner―cutting the beef into paper thin slices, heating the sauce, making  potatoes and salad. By the time the rolls went into the oven everything else was ready so I could relax with a glass of wine and my novel. My daughter came in from a walk to the heavenly aromas of fresh bread as they came out of the oven. She bit into one roll right away and declared it was the best bread she’d ever eaten. They were delicious with the beef, as well as yummy for lunch alongside an omelette. Tonight, we’ll have them with a large salad and roasted yams. They are a new ingredient to use in different says.

I hope you’ll bake some for your family and tell me how you use them. (If you’d like to make the Italian beef there are instructions included in the Notes section of this recipe.)

I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.


Focaccia Rolls

Yield: 12 Large Rolls


  • 2 teaspoons rapid yeast
  • 2 ¾ cups water
  • 5 ½ cups bread flour
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for bowl and drizzling before baking
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • ¾ teaspoon granulated sugar


  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil


  • 1 small red onion, peeled and cut into finely sliced rounds
  • ½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated


  1. Place the yeast, water, bread flour, 4 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon sea salt and granulated sugar into the bowl of a standing mixer. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on medium until the dough starts to pull away from the sides (about 3 minutes). Increase the speed to high and mix for 6 minutes, until the dough comes together and pulls entire away from the sides.
  2. Coat the inside of a large bowl with olive oil and transfer the dough to it. Fold the dough over itself and couple of times, cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until it is  1 ½ times it original volume, about 2 hours.
  3. Line two rimmed sheet pans with parchment paper.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface. Divide in half.
  5. Divide one-half of the dough into six equal pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Place on one of the prepared sheet pans.
  6. Add the garlic cloves and dried basil to the second-half of the dough, gently kneading the ingredients in by hand.  Divide into six equal pieces, shape into balls and place on the second prepared sheet pan.
  7. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for one hour.
  8. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  9. Uncover the rounds and use your fingers to make 5 dimples on the surface of each. Press down firmly until you feel the baking sheet, being careful not to tear the dough.
  10. With a pastry brush, lightly coat each focaccia round with olive oil and sea salt. Top the basil and garlic filled rolls with the onion rings and grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
  11. Place in the oven and bake until they are browned on top, about 20 minutes.


  1. The dough can be mixed initially by hand or in a bread machine.
  2. I chose to split the dough and make two kinds of rolls, one simple and one filled. You can dedicate the entire dough to either one.
  3. You can make one large focaccia instead of the rolls by spreading the dough onto a parchment lined 13 by 18-inch sheet pan instead of shaping into rolls. Let the dough rise for 30 minutes, create dimples in the surface as instructed above, drizzle with olive oil  and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake plain or top with onion rings and Parmigiano Reggiano. Bake until browned, about 30 minutes.
  4. If not eating right away, store in an airtight container on the counter for up to two days.
  5. This recipe is adapted from The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook.
  6. To make Italian roast beef, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Sprinkle salt and pepper on a 5 pound rump roast. Place in a roasting pan in the oven until it is browned, about 25 minutes. Remove the beef from the oven and put it into a crock pot. Cover with a jar of prepared tomato sauce. Set the crock pot to high and allow the beef to simmer for four hours. To serve, remove the beef from the pot. Remove any string used to hold the beef together. Slice the beef into thin slices and serve covered with sauce.


Note: Squarespace is currently experiencing difficulty with its comment system. You can still comment on Gathering Flavors as a guest, no login required. Write your comment, then click Post Comment. On the top left of the form you will see an icon that resembles a person. Click that icon & the only thing required is your name. Then post your comment. Sorry for the trouble. Hopefully, the issue will resolve soon. Dena

Dena Testa Bray has been writing Gathering Flavors, a culinary blog, since 2011. She is a trained chef & ran a home based cooking school. Dena now designs websites, focusing on work with creative people. You can see her website work at She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and family.