Baking bread might be your best excuse for a science experiment at home. It’s fun to watch yeast come alive in the right environment and work it’s magic on dough. Practice your accurate measuring skills in this recipe and use math to divide the Focaccia into fair amounts for everyone in your household. It’s going to smell heavenly and you’ll want to eat it warm because it’s just too hard to resist. Focaccia is an Italian flat bread. You can use different toppings, however this recipe calls for the classic Italian flavours of rosemary and parmesan cheese.

Yield: one dinner-plate sized loaf
Preparation Time: 1 ½ hours, including rising time
Cooking Time: 25 minutes



  • 1 Tbsp (15mL) dry yeast
  • 300mL lukewarm water
  • 1 tsp (5mL) salt
  • 1 ½ cups (375mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (250mL) whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp (10mL) olive oil
  • 1 tsp (5mL) coarse sea salt, to sprinkle on top
  • 1 Tbsp (15mL) fresh rosemary needles, to sprinkle on top
  • ¼ cup (50mL) freshly grated parmesan cheese, to sprinkle on top
  • Cornmeal, to sprinkle on the baking tray
  • Extra flour, when working with dough


  • large mixing bowl
  • liquid measuring cup
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • rubber spatula
  • pastry scraper
  • plastic wrap
  • baking sheet with edges
  • metal spatula
  • cooling rack
  • cutting board
  • bread knife



  1. Add the yeast to 300mL (1 1/4 cups) lukewarm water.  Stir around to combine and soften the yeast.
  2. Measure the flours and put in a large bowl.  Sprinkle the salt over top of the flour. Mix together.  Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients.
  3. Pour the yeast and water in the well.  Be sure you get all of the yeast.
  4. Mix well with one hand. Stretching and pulling the dough. The dough will be quite sticky.
  5. Lightly flour your work area and scrape the dough from the bowl onto it. With floured hands, knead the dough gently by pushing the dough away from you, then scooping it up and bringing it forward. The dough may stick so use a pastry scraper to help lift the dough. Flour your hands and work area as needed. Knead gently for about two minutes.
  6. Wash out your mixing bowl then rub a few drops of olive oil over the bottom of the bowl. Put the dough in the bowl and rub a few drops of oil on top of the dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean tea towel and place in a warm spot for about an hour, until doubled in size.
  7. Preheat the oven to 220 C (425 F). Generously sprinkle cornmeal over a baking sheet (or cover with parchment paper).
  8. Get the olive oil. Sea salt and rosemary ready. Pick the needles from the rosemary stem and rip them up.
  9. When the dough has risen, pour the dough out onto the baking sheet and pat into an oval shape. The dough will be sticky so rub your fingers with olive oil and pat and stretch the dough with flat fingers. Stretch the dough to about the size of a large dinner plate.
  10. Evenly spread the olive oil over the top of the focaccia.
  11. Sprinkle the top of the dough with coarse salt then with the rosemary needles.
  12. Dimple the dough with the tips of your fingers, then sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the top of the dough.
  13. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rise for 15 minutes.
  14. Bake the focaccia in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, until golden.
  15. Remove from the oven when baked and remove from the pan to a cooling rack. Let it cool for a few minutes.
  16. Cut and serve warm.





Gather all the ingredients you need.

Add the yeast to the water and measure the flours and salt.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Pour the yeast and water into the well. Mix well with one hand.

Lightly flour your work surface, as well as your hands, and knead the dough for about two minutes.

Make a ball.

Clean the bowl you used to mix the dough and rub a few drops of olive oil. Place the ball of dough in it and cover and let it rest in a warm spot.

Wait until it has doubled in size, approximately one hour.

While the dough rests, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Grate the parmesan cheese, pick the needles from the rosemary and tear them into small pieces with your fingers. Have the salt and olive oil ready. Place some parchment paper in a cookie sheet.

Once the dough has risen, place it onto the baking sheet and pat it into an oval shape. Spread the olive oil evenly and sprinkle the salt and rosemary.

Make “dimples” with the tips of your fingers.

Sprinkle the parmesan cheese all over and bake until golden brown.

Cut and serve warm.


Find out more about the science of yeast in our What’s the Big Deal About Yeast experiment.

Yeast is a leavener that makes bread rise and has been used to make bread for thousands of years. It is also used to make wine and beer. Yeast is alive and it’s kind of a miracle to watch it work! It’s a single cell organism that is related to fungi and it is all around us… learn more >

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