Ready for a tasty twist on this classic Italian bread? Black pepper focaccia isn't too peppery, but still has a wonderful flavor, soft texture, and crispy crust, making it perfect for enjoying by itself or making into epic sandwiches. Now, you don't have to go all the way to Panera to grab a loaf of focaccia; you can make it right at home!
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Fortunately, black pepper focaccia doesn't take very many ingredients! Most of these are pantry staples, and if you happen to run out of them, they're easy to find at your local grocery store.
- Flour: It's vital that you use bread flour or a special high-gluten flour, not all-purpose. Focaccia must have a strong gluten structure in order for it to rise properly.
- Yeast: I like to use fast-action instead of active dry. Active dry requires a 10-minute blooming in warm water and sugar to see if it is active, which slows down the bread making process.
- Salt: Fine table salt is the best type of salt to mix into the dough; sprinkle coarse sea salt or kosher salt on top of the focaccia before it bakes for extra flavor.
- Pepper: Freshly cracked black pepper adds a subtle kick to this bread.
- Olive Oil: Extra virgin olive oil adds extra flavor to the dough and keeps it moist and soft.
- Water: Use filtered water that's been warmed to 115 F.
What is the difference between focaccia and ciabatta?
Focaccia and ciabatta are both famous Italian breads make from wet doughs, which means they have an irregular, open crumb structure (lots of differently sized air holes in the bread). Although they are similar, they are distinctly different.
The main difference arises in the shape; ciabatta are shaped in long, slipper-like loaves, while focaccia is a rectangular flatbread with a texture similar to pizza dough. Ciabatta is most commonly used to make sandwiches, as it's the Italian version of a French baguette, while focaccia is usually eaten plain or baked with toppings, such as cheese or herbs. The dough for ciabatta is even wetter and stickier, which changes the texture and appearance of the end result.
Is focaccia supposed to be hard?
Focaccia isn't the easiest bread to make, as it's much stickier than normal doughs. This makes it a little more tricky to tell if the dough is kneaded enough or risen enough. (It's definitely best to use a stand mixer to mix the dough if you have one!) However, if you don't make substitutions and if you strictly follow the instructions, you should be able to turn out a beautiful focaccia.
Is the crust supposed to be hard? The crust should be fairly thin and crispy, and the inside should be soft and chewy; think pizza dough. Using a darker-colored pan will result in a crispier crust.
How much does black pepper focaccia cost at Panera?
It costs $3.49 to purchase one loaf of black pepper focaccia at Panera. However, the price is subject to change depending upon the location.
How many calories are in Panera's black pepper focaccia?
According to Panera's website, each serving contains 140 calories, 2g fat, 26g carbs, and 5g protein. However, Panera doesn't specify how big of a slice this is or how much it weighs. In comparison, this copycat recipe contains 275 calories, 6.4g fat, 46g carbs, and 8g protein per slice. (I sliced this loaf into 8 triangles, so these nutrition facts are for ⅛ of the focaccia.) For the full nutritional information on this recipe, scroll to the end of the recipe card.
How long does homemade focaccia last?
If you're not eating all of the focaccia on the day that it's baked, you should freeze it to keep it at its freshest. Never store bread in the fridge, as it will make it go stale very quickly. Simply seal the bread in a zip-top freezer bag and freeze for up to 1 month. Defrost at room temperature, in a toaster, under the broiler, or in the microwave.
If you do choose to keep the focaccia out, it will taste the best within 48 hours of baking.
How to Make
Gather the ingredients for the black pepper focaccia.
Pour the flour into the bowl of a stand mixer and add the salt and yeast on opposite sides, stirring each one in with your finger.
Mix in the pepper and oil, then add half of the water and stir to form a dry, clumpy dough.
Gradually add the remaining water to form a very sticky, wet dough.
Knead on medium-low speed with the paddle attachment for 5 minutes, then switch to the dough hook and knead for another 5 minutes. The dough should be very stretchy and smooth and should pass the windowpane test. (See the recipe card for a description of this technique.)
Cover the dough and let it rise until it's at least doubled in size, about 1 ½ hours.
Dump the dough into a 9-inch springform pan and press it down, making sure it goes right to the edge of the pan. Cover and let it prove until it is doubled in size and is springy to the touch, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Bake at 425 F for 25-30 minutes, or until the focaccia is browned and has an internal temperature of at least 190 F. Remove the outer band from the pan during the last 10 minutes of the bake to encourage the crust to brown more. Allow the loaf to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing and serving.
Enjoy this bread plain, dipped into olive oil and black pepper, or made into a delicious sandwich.
- This recipe makes a tall, round focaccia to use as a sandwich bread, which is not the traditional shape. If you would like to make a thinner, rectangular focaccia, simply tip the dough into a greased 11x17-inch cookie tray and use your fingers to press the dough all the way to the edges of the tray. Prove as directed, and shorten the baking time to 20 minutes.
- Want to add herbs? Mix 1-2 teaspoons of dried rosemary, basil, or oregano into the dough and sprinkle the top of the loaf with dried rosemary before baking.
- Do not substitute ingredients. You must use bread flour (or a special high-gluten flour), never all-purpose.
- The most important parts of this recipe are kneading and proving the bread. Be sure to diligently follow the guidelines in the recipe instructions for these steps.
- This dough will be very sticky, even after the kneading and rising is completed. It is vital that you add the proper amount of liquid, or you will have a dense and stodgy bread. Focaccia should have an open, irregular crumb structure (large air holes), and that is only produced by a wet dough that has been sufficiently kneaded and properly proved.
- Want to make sandwiches with this bread? Slice it in half lengthwise with a sharp serrated knife, then cut it into triangles.
- Want to make croutons? Cut the bread in half lengthwise, then slice in strips. Cut the strips crosswise to create cubes.
Serve this focaccia with some copycat Panera soups.
Want to make some Panera's bakery items at home? Check out these copycat recipes!
- Cinnamon Crunch Bagels
- Chocolate Chipper Cookies
- Tomato Basil Bread
- Lemon Drop Cookies
- Kitchen Sink Cookies
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Copycat Panera Black Pepper Focaccia
- Pour the flour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl, stirring each one in with your finger. Keeping the salt from directly touching the yeast prevents it from killing the yeast.
- Add the olive oil and the black pepper and stir to combine.
- Microwave the water for 1 minute on high, or until it reaches 115°F. Add half of the water to the flour mixture, mixing on low speed with the paddle attachment until a dry, clumpy dough forms. Gradually add more water to form a very sticky dough. You will probably use all of the water, but the humidity and the brand of flour that you use will affect the exact amount that you need.
- Mix with the paddle attachment for 5 minutes on medium low speed, then switch attachments to the dough hook and mix for another 5 minutes on medium low speed. The dough is kneaded when you can carefully stretch a piece of the dough thin enough for it to be translucent without tearing. The dough will be quite sticky, but should be very stretchy.
- Cover the bowl and let the dough prove at room temperature until it is at least doubled in size, approximately 1 hour 30 minutes. Keep in mind that the proving time is dependent upon the temperature and humidity, so it may take more or less time. You may also place the dough in the fridge to rise overnight at this stage if you would like; simply realize that the second prove will take at least twice as long the following day.
- While the dough is proving, lightly grease the base of a 9-inch round springform pan that is at least 2 inches deep. Line the base with parchment paper for easy removal.
- Once the dough has at least doubled in size, dump it into the prepared springform pan and use your fingertips to press it down, all the way to the edges of the pan. There should be dimples on the surface of the dough from your fingertips. Lightly drizzle the bread with olive oil.
- Cover the bread and allow it to rise at room temperature until it has at least doubled in size and is springy to the touch, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. If the bread is rising too quickly, put it in the fridge to slow down the rise.
- About 30 minutes before the bread is done rising, preheat the oven to 425°F.
- When the focaccia has risen enough, sprinkle it with coarse sea salt and bake it at 425°F for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the outer band from the springform pan during the last 10 minutes of the bake to brown the crust a little more. The focaccia is baked when it is lightly browned and has an internal temperature of at least 190°F on a meat thermometer.
- Remove the focaccia from the pan and transfer it to a wire rack. Allow it to cool completely at room temperature, approximately 1 hour.
- Slice as desired, then serve. This bread is especially delicious when each bite is dipped into a mixture of extra virgin olive oil and black pepper.
- The most important steps in this recipe are the kneading and proving. An under-kneaded or under-proved focaccia will not taste as good nor have as lovely of a texture. Be sure to follow the guidelines in the recipe instructions to ensure your success.
- This dough has 80% hydration, which means it will be very sticky, even after the kneading and rising is completed. It is vital that you add the proper amount of liquid, or you will have a dense and stodgy bread. Focaccia should have an open, irregular crumb structure (large air holes), and that is only produced by a wet dough that has been sufficiently kneaded and properly proved.
- This recipe makes a very tall, round focaccia to use as a sandwich bread, which is not the traditional shape. If you would like to make a thinner, rectangular focaccia, simply tip the dough into a greased 11x17-inch cookie tray and use your fingers to press the dough all the way to the edges of the tray. Prove as directed, and shorten the baking time to 20 minutes.
- If you are not eating all of the focaccia in one day, its best to freeze it to keep it at its freshest. Pre-slice the bread for ease and seal it inside of a freezer friendly zip top bag. Freeze for up to one month. Defrost at room temperature or in the microwave.
- If you are using the focaccia bread to make sandwiches, slice it in half lengthwise with a sharp serrated knife, then cut it into triangles. To make croutons, cut the bread in half lengthwise, then slice in strips. Cut the strips crosswise to create cubes.