Two wonderful carb-y delights come together in this sheet pan pretzel focaccia. Perfect as a party appetizer or game-day snack, we gave an easy focaccia the pretzel treatment by brushing it with a hot baking soda mixture before baking to get that golden exterior we all know and love from pretzels. It mimics the effect of boiling dough for that quintessential chewy pretzel tang. We topped the bread with flaky sea salt and serve it with a mustard and parsley-spiked cheese sauce. Each bite is fluffy, chewy, and salty. Start the dough in the morning and it’ll be ready by the time your guests arrive.
For the focaccia:
1¾ cup warm water
1 ¼ oz. envelope active dry yeast (2¼ teaspoons)
5 to 5½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg, beaten
1½ teaspoons flaky sea salt, divided
For the cheese sauce:
8 ounces grated white cheddar cheese (about 2 cups)
1½ teaspoon cornstarch
1 cup half and half
4 ounces cream cheese
1 teaspoon grain mustard
2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
How to Make It
Combine water and yeast in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix to combine. Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk 5 cups flour and salt in a large bowl.
With the mixer on low, slowly add flour mixture until well combined, 2 to 3 minutes (dough will be shaggy). Add 2 tablespoons oil and continue to mix until oil is absorbed, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-low and knead until dough is soft and pulls away from sides of bowl, about 5 minutes. If dough is very sticky, add remaining ½ cup flour, one tablespoon at a time until dough is smooth. Transfer dough to counter and shape into a ball. Wipe out the mixing bowl, grease with 2 teaspoons oil and add dough, turning to coat in the oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a tea towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1½ hours.
Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease a standard 13-by-18-inch baking sheet with 1 tablespoon oil. Punch down on dough, remove from bowl, and transfer to greased tray. Using your fingertips, press dough to the edges of the tray. Cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel and let rest again until slightly risen, about 1 hour. Press all over the dough with your fingertips to create dimples in the dough.
Just before baking, combine ¼ cup boiling water and baking soda (mixture will bubble); brush on dough to cover the surface. Discard remaining baking soda mixture. Brush top of dough with egg and top with ¾ teaspoon flaky salt. Bake until golden, 18 to 20 minutes.
Brush focaccia with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and top with remaining ¾ teaspoon flaky salt. Let cool slightly while you make the cheese sauce.
For the cheese sauce: mix cheese and cornstarch in a bowl. Combine half and half, cream cheese, and mustard in a small saucepan and cook over medium, stirring frequently, until combined, about 2 minutes. Slowly add cheese mixture, stirring throughout, until cheese is melted and sauce is thick, about 3 minutes. Stir in parsley. Cut focaccia into 22 strips. Serve with warm cheese sauce.