Makes dough for one 15-by-11 1/2-inch focaccia
1 1/2 cups warm (110°F) water, divided
1 package active dried yeast
3–3½ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
11/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1. Pour 1/2 cup of the water into a mixing bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and stir it with a spoon. Allow the yeast to get bubbly. This will take about 5 minutes. Pour in the remaining water.
2. Mix in 1 cup of the flour. Stir in the olive oil and salt. Continue adding enough of the flour to create a dough that moves away from the sides of the mixing bowl and is not sticking to your hands. The dough should be slightly tacky, but not sticky or gooey feeling. (You can make the dough using an electric mixer or food processor, or by hand.)
3. Knead the dough a few times on a lightly floured work surface. Round the dough into a ball and place it in a large bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise until double in size.
Note: You can make the dough a day ahead, and after it has risen, punch it down and place the dough in a plastic bag sprayed inside with vegetable oil. Refrigerate the dough. When ready to use, transfer the dough to a bowl; cover; and allow to come to room temperature and rise.