I became familiar with focaccia as lunch on our honeymoon in Liguria. There was a lovely small bakery – focaccieria – just around the corner from our hotel and up the street from the beach. We could smell the freshly baked bread well before reaching the bakery. It was the smell and the queue to the street that caught our attention and made us step in.
The varieties were many and we would try a different version each time. In a couple of days we also learnt the opening hours and to get the special olive and zucchini focaccia in the morning because it would be sold out on most days. The bread would make a perfect lunch on a day out on the beach. It was more than a sandwich and much more appealing to the eye too. Focaccia is a perfect combination of softness of bread, greasiness of oil and salty flavours. As I got home I started searching for recipes and experimenting with them. Every time I bake focaccia I think back to our honeymoon in Alassio.
By now I’ve learnt that focaccia was introduced by Etruscans and that it is especially typical for Liguria but have also tried it in Tuscany and Lazio.
Today I bake my foccacias without a recipe and like to think that I have a touch to baking them. I’ve tried different fillings, sizes and toppings. I use mostly olives and herbes Provencal as filling and tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, potatoes, onions and zucchini as topping. I used to sprinkle the top of the bread with coarse sea salt until one day a friend broke his tooth biting into a big salt grain. So today I use a salt grinder.
This recipe makes a focaccia that is the size of a baking sheet. The measures are approximate and the amount of flours depends on the type and make of flours.
2.5 dl lukewarm water
½ packet of dried yeast, 2 tsp
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp honey
6-8 dl flour, I often use a combination of white and full-grain flour
- Pre-heat the oven to 225 C. Take out a large baking sheet and cover it with baking paper. Sprinkle with olive oil.
- Measure the water into a bowl and stir in the yeast mixed into a tablespoon of four.
- Add the oil, honey and salt.
- Mix in the flours little by little and make relatively loose dough. The ingredients are almost the same as in pizza dough but you don’t need to bake it until it is elastic.
- Pour the dough on the baking sheet. Pat the bread with floury fingers and even out the surface. Let let it rise in a warm place for about half an hour or so.
- Add the topping, push the olives and tomatoes into the dough, and sprinkle with olive. Grind some salt on the bread.
- Bake in 225 C for 15 min or until the bread is golden brown.
What to do with fillings then? I’ve tried sliced olives and herbs. They will give flavour to the bread while it rises.
My favourite toppings are olives, onion and rosemary. I use olives with stones and thinly sliced onion. For this focaccia I used sun dried tomatoes that I first soaked in a mixture of water and vinegar and fresh rosemary.
Yummy! This time, as always, the bread vanished with a good appetite.