The journey to the best Focaccia of my life was a ten hour flight, a two hour car ride and an hour donkey ride uphill all the way. Okay, I’m joking about the donkey part. However, I bet back in the day they had to use donkey’s to get to the tiny Trattoria in Italy, complete with wobbly wooden tables, checkered table cloths, hunks of provolone cheese hanging from the ceiling, someone’s Nonna dressed all in black, serving homemade red wine in stemless glasses and the tastiest Focaccia bread in the world.
I was recently asked in an interview if I only had one food I could eat for the rest of my life what would it be? I chose Focaccia.
Welcome to another addition of Tasty Tuesday
This week’s contribution is; you guessed it:
Focaccia — pronounced — foh/KAHT/tchah
Focaccia is a flat Italian bread made with olive oil and herbs and is topped with minimal ingredients.
It is unlike pizza, as pizza can be piled high with five or more toppings and lots of cheese (the lots of cheese part is the the North American version of pizza).
Focaccia is a simple bread not laden with a ton of toppings and cheese. Two or three toppings are enough. It is best eaten with minimal toppings so you can savor the flavor of the oil and bread.
While baking this bread your kitchen will smell heavenly and you’ll want to put on some Dean Martin (okay, maybe not Dino, but some romantic soothing music) and pour yourself a glass of wine. Cooking is all about having fun and giving all your senses a culinary, orgasmic workout.
BASIC FOCACCIA DOUGH RECIPE:
Note: I’m going to post the regular recipe for this bread not the gluten-free recipe which is what I eat.
I do have a gluten-free recipe, but I have not measured everything to ensure one can follow my instructions to get it right. It’s one of those recipes where you need to be standing by me while I make it.
The following recipe is for everyone who can eat whatever they want without worrying about gluten (lucky bitches…no truly, I’m happy for you all) 🙂
1 tsp. honey
1 package active dry yeast (.25 ounce)
1 cup warm water
1 medium potato (peeled, boiled and mashed)
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
4 TBSP fresh rosemary
3 TBSP olive oil (good quality extra virgin olive oil is best to use)
½ tsp. salt
In a small bowl, dissolve honey and yeast in 1/3 cup of the warm water until it looks creamy.
Put a cloth over the bowl and let stand for about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl add: flour and salt mix together.
Add the yeast mixture to the flour bowl; stir well to combine.
Add the mashed potato and rosemary and work into the dough, and then add one tablespoon at a time of the warm water, until all of the flour is absorbed.
When the dough is pliable, not too wet and not too dry. Adding the water one tablespoon at a time, will ensure you don’t make the dough too wet, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.
Knead for 2 – 3 minutes.
Lightly oil a large bowl.
Place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat the dough with oil.
Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume. Takes about 30 – 40 minutes.
Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.
Take the dough out of the bowl and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface; knead briefly.
Pat or roll the dough on to a lightly greased baking sheet. (You could also use a baking sheet lined with parchment paper)
Brush the dough with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle lightly with sea-salt.
Using your thumbs, press into the dough so there are little thumb print-like marks on the dough.
Bake Focaccia in preheated oven for 10 to 20 minutes. Depends on how crispy you want the bread.
VARIATIONS OF THE DOUGH:
1. You can leave out the potato all together if you want and if you prefer to use sugar, then you can use sugar instead of honey.
2. While kneading the dough, you can add the following to the dough and knead it right into the dough: basil pesto, or whiz some roasted garlic, roasted red peppers and olive oil in your food processor and add that to the dough.
3. You can substitute the fresh rosemary for any herb that you like, or leave the herbs out all together. Your choice.
SUGGESTED TOPPINGS: (Put your toppings on before you bake the bread)
This is where you let your culinary imagination go wild and sexy. So if you experiment with a different topping than I have suggested here, please drop by and let me know what you’ve made.
Suggestion: Take one topping from each section to top your bread. You may also choose to not add any cheese, your choice, just try not to put a lot of toppings on the bread.
crumbled feta cheese
thinly sliced provolone cheese
shredded parmesan cheese
diced goat cheese
shredded mozzarella cheese
crumbled blue cheese
coarsely chopped pitted kalamata olives
sun-dried tomato packed in oil
thinly sliced red onions
very thinly sliced potatoes
thinly sliced sweet onions
roasted sweet peppers
slice mushrooms (any kind of mushrooms)
roasted pine nuts
If you have any questions or if I’m unclear on any of the above directions, please comment here and I’ll do my best to clarify any confusion. Enjoy!
For more Tasty Tuesday Recipes please drop by my fellow authors and pick up some tasty treats:
Headless Chicken Soup by Nancy Lauzon
Rolled Sugar Cookies by A. Catherine Noon