Content of the material
- The topping
- Storing and freezing
- History Between The Two
- Differences In Cooking
- Olive Oil Topping for Focaccia
- Oil and Water Paste
- Flavoured Olive Oil
- Making the dough: weights are most accurate
- But let’s just talk about the basic focaccia recipe now!
- And this is how we do it:
- How to Make a Focaccia Bread Art
- Sonja Alex
- Serving suggestions
- What makes this Focaccia recipe different?
- Three dough proofs (rises)!
- Four Tips for Success
- Toppings for Focaccia
- 1. Rosemary and garlic Focaccia
- 2. Tomato Focaccia
- 3. Olive Focaccia
- Olive Oil and Sea Salt Flakes
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- Welcome, glad you’re here!
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- While the dough is rising, covered in an oiled bowl, prepare the topping. Wash, and cut the ripe tomatoes in half. Place them in a bowl, add the olives, dress with evo oil, salt, pepper, and a pinch of oregano. Let sit to release the juices and soften.
- Before placing the tomatoes, cut side down, and the olives on the surface of the pizza, squish the tomato halves a bit, then arrange them all over the pizza pressing to let them sink in the dough. Then, add the juices from the tomatoes, and drizzle more oil all over. Sprinkle with oregano. Let sit for 30 more minutes.
Storing and freezing
Baked focaccia bread can be covered and kept at room temperature for 2 days.
To freeze, wrap it very well in plastic before freezing it for up to 2 months. Let it thaw at room temperature or speed it up by heating the bread in 15-second intervals in the microwave.
Focaccia is always best when it’s warm, so feel free to warm the thawed bread in a 350ºF oven for 8 minutes or in the air fryer for 3 to 4 minutes.
History Between The Two
The focaccia is said to have originated in Ancient Italy or Ancient Greece, so dates back a very long way. It is understable it is so old, being fairly simple and the obvious building blocks for other bread. Today there is different variations in all regions of Italy.
Pizza is said to have originated in Naples, Italy, with the first written account in 997 AD. Perhaps it was a regional variation of focaccia – it would be natural to add other toppings. Surrounding Naples grown in the volcanic soil are the most premium tomatoes in Italy, if not the world. Also originating there is the buffalo mozzarella. These two classic ingredients, along with basil, formed the “Pizza Margherita” when Queen Margherita visited Naples in 1889.
Differences In Cooking
Pizza is known for its fast cooking, which improves the texture by puffing up the crust quickly. A wood fired oven can cook a pizza in around a minute. Even in a home oven, people are aiming for the fastest times by adding pizza stones to provide a hot surface to cut cooking times. You can expect 5-10 minutes to bake a pizza in a home oven.
Focaccia is cooked hot, but doesn’t have the focus on being quite so hot. As with most breads, we allow the dough to rise and cook in the oven over 20-30 minutes or so – much more time than a pizza. Because the bread is thicker, we aren’t so worried about it drying out.
Olive Oil Topping for Focaccia
Oil and Water Paste
Some people will make a paste with olive oil, water and salt to rub over the dough before baking. This creates a translucent layer on the focaccia which is not really to my liking. So I just drizzle olive oil and sprinkle some salt all over.
Flavoured Olive Oil
Another popular thing to do is to lightly heat some extra virgin olive oil and flavour it with herbs of your choice: rosemary, oregano, thyme, and also spices.
Leave the oil to completely cool, and use this to brush over the dough before baking.
Making the dough: weights are most accurate
Here’s something to note about focaccia pizza dough. When you’re baking it up, measuring the ingredients by weight is most accurate! Why? The environment and the way you pack the measuring cups can both affect the exact weight. So using a food scale is the most accurate way to measure out quantities when baking something precise like dough.
- Need a food scale? Here’s the food scale we use. It’s also what we use for our morning pourover coffee!
- Don’t have one? Use the spoon and level method. Spoon the dry ingredient into the measuring cup, then level it off (instead of plunging the entire cup into the flour container).
But let’s just talk about the basic focaccia recipe now!
So we’ve ascertained that there is no single, or traditional, or authentic focaccia recipe. Or even perfect. One man’s perfect is another man’s erm, imperfect? Imperfection? Flaw? Nightmare?
It does take a little time, not so much effort, but time. However, in that time, you could go wash your hair, paint your nails, weed the garden, or just put your feet up. With the regulatory glass of wine. Or java.
The final result of the homemade focaccia is, need I say it, so much better than anything from the supermarket!
So our basic focaccia recipe takes 2 days.
Well, most of that time is hands off. Remember: wash hair, hoover house, watch Netflix?
And this is how we do it:
- Make the poolish the night before (pre ferment, more below) – 5 minutes
- Make the dough in a food processor – 15 minutes
- Tip dough in bowl: first rest – 1 hour
- Tip risen dough in baking tin: second rest – 30 minutes
- Add oil and topping: final rest – 20 minutes
- Bake – 30 minutes
Actual hands on time = no more than 30 minutes!
How to Make a Focaccia Bread Art
Pictured above is my “Ode to Spring” (?) Focaccia Bread Art (or Garden Scape). As noted above, the key with adding toppings is to slick them lightly with olive oil to ensure they don’t completely char. Keep in mind that some items will char, and a little charring is not a bad thing.
To make a focaccia bread art:
- Follow the recipe through the step in which you dimple the dough just before baking. Arrange your toppings — sliced peppers, asparagus, scallions, olives, tomatoes, onions, etc. — over top and dimple again, pressing the ingredients into the dough to embed them — you can be more aggressive than you think.
- Brush the entire surface with olive oil; then sprinkle with sea salt.
- Bake as directed.
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Traditional focaccia barese is great as a snack, or part of an appetizer or bread platter. Also, cut into wedges can be packed for a picnic. It is good either warm or cold. In Italy, it is considered a street food, mostly sold at panificio (bakery) or homebaked with love.
What makes this Focaccia recipe different?
For those of you who are interested in the nitty gritty of focaccia-making, here is some background information about focaccia barese which is the type of focaccia we are making here today!
High hydration – The dough for this recipe has particularly high hydration levels from the water and moisture in the potatoes. This is what gives the bread the springy, airy texture and open crumb;
NO KNEAD – That’s right! This focaccia is a no-knead bread. The dough is simply too wet and sticky to knead, so we instead rely on a 3-proof method (more this below);
Mashed potato – The unique inclusion of potato in the dough is what adds chew and body that you you don’t otherwise get with a straight flour focaccia. It also helps the crumb retain moisture;
Lots of olive oil! Any focaccia recipe worth its salt (or oil?) will call for lashings of olive oil for flavour. In this focaccia, it also makes the crust deliciously crispy, almost like it’s been fried like deep pan pizza!
Three dough proofs (rises) … YES! This step is essential. However because I’m worried this will be a turn-off for some, I’ve provided more details below to convince you it’s worth it – and it really is effortless.
Three dough proofs (rises)!
The recipe does require three proofs for the dough. But really, it is not a big deal! They are quick and the benefit is no messy kneading on the counter or in the stand-mixer. It takes just 1 hour 40 minutes for rising in total for the whole recipe, and just a minute or two to prepare the dough for each rise.
We tried reducing it to 2 proofs but found the result wasn’t as good, and 1 proof was even more inferior.
We need to rise the dough 3 times because because the dough is so wet we can’t knead it. Instead we let the bread “knead” itself through proofing. Proofing and folding several times before baking encourages gluten development and starch transformation to give the bread structure, as well as the time to develop flavour.
Four Tips for Success
- Allowing the dough to rest 18 to 24 hours in the fridge yields the best results. (You can leave the dough in the fridge for as long as 72 hours.)
- A buttered or parchment-lined pan in addition to the olive oil will prevent sticking. When I use Pyrex or other glass, pans butter plus oil is essential to prevent sticking. When I use my 9×13-inch USA Pan, I can get away with using olive oil alone.
- Count on 2 to 4 hours for the second rise. This will depend on the temperature of your kitchen and the time of year.
- After the second rise, dimple the dough, then immediately stick the pans in the oven — this has been a critical difference for me in terms of keeping those desirable crevices. If you dimple and let the dough rise again even for 20 minutes before popping the pan in the oven, the crevices begin to dissolve.
Toppings for Focaccia
I’m sharing three different toppings in this Focaccia recipe:
Rosemary and garlic – A lovely classic version;
Tomato and oregano – Looks cheerful, and we love how the tangy and sweet tomato juices seep into the focaccia; and
Olive – Another classic variation that looks beautifully striking with the stark contrast of the black olives studded in the golden crust!
1. Rosemary and garlic Focaccia
This is a “plain”, classic version made using fresh rosemary and garlic – though there’s nothing “plain” about homemade focaccia!
We’re using confit garlic which might sound fancy, but it’s just garlic that’s cooked in oil over a low heat until soft. Why do we have to bother, you ask? Because otherwise the garlic burns too much at the high oven temperature required to crisp the surface of the focaccia. Soft-cooking larger pieces helps protect the garlic. Nobody wants bitter black bits of garlic on their focaccia!
2. Tomato Focaccia
Made with cherry tomatoes, the trick with this is to squish them before pressing them firmly into the dough. This makes the tomatoes soften and stay semi-sunk in the dough, and allows the juices to seep into the crumb (the best part!).
If you don’t squish, the cherry tomatoes kind of pop out and end up rolling around on the surface of the focaccia… and inevitably across the floor! ?
I’ve used oregano as the herb but any dried mixed herbs or fresh rosemary will also work well.
3. Olive Focaccia
Kalamata olives (pitted) make an ideal choice here. I love how juicy and salty they are, and how the deep purple, almost black colour, really stands out against the golden brown surface.
I’ve used oregano as the herb for this one too, but rosemary also works well (fresh, not dried).
Olive Oil and Sea Salt Flakes
In addition to the above toppings, all focaccia are finished with a generous drizzle of olive oil and a good pinch of sea salt flakes. It’s really worth using sea salt flakes for the surface, rather than cooking / kosher salt so they stay mostly whole as little salty pops rather than dissolving into the bread surface.
Love the way the olive oil pools in the holes!
Welcome, glad you’re here! Hi, I’m Lena Gladstone, the recipe developer and food photographer behind Lena’s Kitchen. Here you will find approachable food recipes to share with the whole family. Keto friendly, weeknight dinners all made with fresh ingredients. Click here to learn more!
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