December 1


Monika’s Molecular Meals: Rosemary & Sea Salt Focaccia (AKA The Best Dairy-Free Bread Ever)

By Monika Knapp

December 1, 2021

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This Delicious Focaccia Is A Naturally Dairy-Free Bread

Monika’s Molecular Meals: Rosemary & Sea Salt Focaccia (AKA The Best Dairy-Free Bread Ever)

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The first time I made this bread, I was mystified.

It makes a focaccia that is light, airy, a little bit chewy, and absolutely irresistible—yet requires no real hands-on kneading, and it really isn’t fussy at all.

I serve this when guests come over, because it is something literally everyone goes nuts over.

And who can blame them?

With the addition of good olive oil, whatever herbs or seasonings you have lying around, and some love… you can make something that tastes rich, indulgent and like it’s straight out of an Italian bakery—and even better, you can make this day-of, too!

Plus, even if you haven’t had any guests over in quite some time… this bread is easy enough to make that it’s worth it just for you (and/or your family), and believe me—it WILL disappear quickly.

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This incredible focaccia recipe (a naturally dairy free bread), is very slightly adapted from Rose Levy Berenbaum’s brilliant book, The Bread Bible.

It’s the fluffiest, most flavorful dairy free bread I’ve ever had… and again, the recipe is largely hands-off.

It’s not hard to do!

The secret is in the water content—at 110% hydration, it’s one of the wettest doughs you’ll probably ever handle.

Which is why if you have a stand mixer, now is definitely the time to pull it out and use it.

Of course, if you don’t have a mixer, that’s OK. You can mix by hand, though I do recommend decreasing the ratio of water you’re using down to 80% so it’s more manageable. (That would be about 665 grams of water following the recipe outlined below.) Then follow the procedure outlined here.

Here’s how it’s done:

Monika’s Molecular Meals: Rosemary & Sea Salt Focaccia (AKA The Best Dairy-Free Bread Ever)

FTH’s Rosemary & Sea Salt Focaccia (AKA The Best Dairy Free Bread Ever)

Equipment Needed: Ingredient scale, stand mixer, nonstick baking sheet or a Silpat baking mat, 1.5-quart container 

Recipe Time: About 5 hours, depending on the conditions where you are baking

Makes: 1 16” x 11” x 1” sheet of focaccia


  • 390 grams unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1.2 grams instant yeast (about 3/8 tsp)
  • 442 grams of water, lukewarm
  • 3 grams sugar (about 3/4 tsp)
  • 5.2 grams salt (about 3/4 tsp)
  • 36 grams extra virgin olive oil (or 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp, divided), plus more for drizzling
  • 2 tsp fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp fleur de sel or sea salt, plus more if desired
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1) Mix the dough.

In a mixer bowl, combine the flour and yeast with your hands or a whisk.

Turn the mixer on low speed (#2 on KitchenAid) and drizzle in the water until the dough comes together, about 3 minutes.

Increase the speed to medium (#4 on KitchenAid)—at this point, the dough will likely be very, very wet and even soupy.

Continue mixing at #4 for about 20 minutes, or until the dough is no longer soupy, and appears smooth and shiny, almost like mozzarella.

Add the sugar and salt, and beat for another 2-3 minutes.

2) Let it rise.

Oil up a spatula and a 1.5-quart minimum bowl, then carefully scrape the dough into the container.

Dot the top of the dough with some oil, then cover the container with a lid, shower cap (I use these for baking ALL the time and they are so much easier to work with than plastic wrap), or plastic wrap.

Allow the dough to rise, ideally at 75-80 degree Fahrenheit, until it has at least doubled. This may take around 4 hours, but it’s best to rely on your own visual cues.

If it seems to be taking a long time, try putting it in your oven with the light on (oven off), or inside the microwave (microwave off).

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3) Shape the dough and let it rise.

Coat your nonstick pan with olive oil, then pour the dough onto it. 

Coat your hands with more olive oil, then spread the dough as much as you can to fill out the pan, then cover and let it rest for 10 minutes. This gives it time to relax and will increase the extensibility.

After 10 minutes, carefully spread the dough as close as you can to the edges in the pan. If it won’t stretch at all, rest it for another 10 minutes.

Cover the pan again with plastic wrap. (If the tray is shallow, it’ll work way better if you grease the bottom of the plastic wrap with olive oil so it doesn’t stick.) Then let rise again until doubled, about 1.5-2 hours.

4) Preheat the oven and bake!

An hour before you intend to bake the dough, preheat your oven to 475 degrees F.

Place an oven shelf at the lowest level, then top that with a baking stone or baking sheet before preheating.

When the dough has again doubled, take the plastic off and drizzle a little more olive oil on it. Using oiled fingertips, dimple the dough.

It doesn’t have to look perfect! I usually use the middle 3 fingers of each hand and go in rows for the most consistent results.

Chop the rosemary and sprinkle it and the salt on top of the dough, then place the pan directly on the hot stone or baking sheet.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the top is golden brown, and the bottom appears golden brown and crispy.

Remove from the oven, drizzle more olive oil if you want, and my absolute favorite part about this recipe… it’s best eaten fresh out of the oven! Enjoy right away.

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Recipe Notes

  • A note on substitutions: If you don’t have unbleached AP flour, regular old AP is fine. It’s also OK to use alternative flours, but be mindful of how your hydration will change as a result. (For example, bread flour is “thirstier” than AP flour so will require more water.)
  • Don’t have a scale? Please get one if you can! A kitchen scale is absolutely essential for baking good bread consistently. But in terms of volume, here are the ratios: 2.75 cups flour, and 2 liquid cups minus 2 Tbsp water.
  • I prefer to wait to chop the rosemary because, in my experience, freshly chopped rosemary can release moisture and lose some of its freshness as a result. 
  • If you’re baking on an older nonstick baking sheet, be mindful of your focaccia burning to the bottom. I messed this up several times before I understood how important using a nonstick surface is (parchment paper will not work, by the way!). I use this USA nonstick cake pan.
Monika’s Molecular Meals: Rosemary & Sea Salt Focaccia (AKA The Best Dairy-Free Bread Ever)

Have A Sourdough Starter? Here’s How To Make This Focaccia Without Any Commercial Yeast…

If you want to make this dairy free bread using sourdough, use the following ratios:

  • 167 grams ripe starter at 100% hydration
  • 279 grams unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 386 grams water

Keep all other ratios from the recipe above the same.

You can also feel free to use different toppings, such as olives, cheese, different types of oil, garlic, roasted peppers… whatever sounds good to you!

My Favorite Way To Make This Bread A Little “Healthier” (But Still Delicious!)

Even if you don’t have a sourdough starter, there are MANY other ways to make this bread a little better for you.

My personal favorite?

Grating some parmesan cheese on top before baking it! *DROOL*

Now, I know what you might be thinking… How can ADDING cheese to an already rich dough possibly be “healthy”?!

Well, it’s science:

One recent study found that adding a certain amount of Parmesan cheese to your diet can improve immune function… fight allergy & UTI symptoms… 

… and the most shocking benefit of all (for me, anyway)… it can even help you burn more fat!!

(Eat more cheese to burn more fat… um, where do I sign up?)

The one catch is, you DO have to use real-deal Parmigiano Reggiano.

Fortunately, if you don’t have that at home right now, there are actually two more rich, delicious cheeses that have been linked to an increased metabolism, lower cholesterol, and higher immunity…

Click here now to see what they are, and how much of them to eat to burn more fat & boost your metabolism right away. 🙂

Monika Knapp

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