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three slices of black pepper focaccia with the loaf

Copycat Panera Black Pepper Focaccia

  • Author: Emma
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Proving Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 1 focaccia 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


With this copycat recipe, you'll be able to make an amazing loaf of Panera's black pepper focaccia. This Italian yeast bread has a thin, crispy crust and soft texture that's perfect for eating plain or making into delicious sandwiches.


  • 4 1/8 cups bread flour (500g)
  • 3 teaspoons fast-action yeast (10g)
  • 2 teaspoons salt (10g)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (45 ml)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 2/3 cups water (400 ml)
  • Additional extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Coarse sea salt, for garnish


  1. Mix Salt & Yeast: 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.
  2. Combine Dry Ingredients: Add the olive oil and the black pepper and stir to combine.
  3. Form the Dough: 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.
  4. Knead: 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.
  5. First Prove: 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.
  6. Prepare the Pan: 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.
  7. Shape the Loaf: 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.
  8. Second Prove: 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.
  9. Preheat: About 30 minutes before the bread is done rising, preheat the oven to 425°F.
  10. Bake: 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.
  11. Cool: Remove the focaccia from the pan and transfer it to a wire rack.  Allow it to cool completely at room temperature, approximately 1 hour.
  12. Serve: 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.
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: panera, recipe