Recipe focaccia bread - Di focaccia
History of flat bread
Italian flat bread was the precursor to the pizza crust prior to the tomato coming to Europe in 1522. It was baked as far back as the Romans before Christ in coals from their fires. The word comes from Latin focus which means center or fireplace (the fireplace represented the center of the home). There are just too many varieties even in Italy not to mention the rest of the world to get into variations. If you frequent many Italian restaurants I suspect that you have never had a flat bread taste similar to any other.
Variety of topings
The wonderful thing about focaccia is that you can throw almost anything on top of it. We like variations of sliced tomatoes, parmesan cheese (or mozzarella), fresh basil and oregano, vegetables, anchovies, sun dried tomatoes, artichokes, etc. But I recommend trying the most common focaccia which is baked yeast-based dough with olive oil and rosemary or sage before trying add ons (see the recipe below). I also recommend eating it with the tapenade recipe I gave you. Lard is commonly substituted for olive oil especially in northern Italy where I am from. But hold off on that lard – it is a health hazard.
My secret ingredient is garlic – I add at least five cloves of diced garlic to the dough before I cook it. I stole the idea from India where they use fresh garlic in their naan (Indian flat bread). In addition, I puncture the dough with my fingers to create wells that trap moisture in the bread. Don’t forget to spread olive oil on top before you cook it. You can also use the wood burning grill trick I wrote about earlier to cook the flat bread. You get a superb smoke flavor.
Ingredients (8 servings):
- 1 cup warm water (100 to 105 degrees F)
- 1 - 0.25 oz. packet dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons + ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 ¾ cup bread flour unbleached
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
- 5 large cloves garlic – diced
Add the water, dry yeast, sugar and salt in a bowl and let stand until the dry yeast is absorbed by the water then stir the contents. Add the olive oil, bread flour, rosemary and garlic and mix and knead until the dough does not stick to the bowl. Take an oiled pizza pan and spread the dough out (diameter of about 10 to 11 inches). Place a cool wet cloth over it and let stand for 30 minutes.
While the dough is rising, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. When the dough is ready, poke holes in the dough with your fingers (this helps to preserve the moisture) and spread a thin coat of olive oil over the top. At this point you can add various other ingredients to the top of the dough if desired (or wait until it has cooked about 15 minutes so the toppings will not overcook).
I've never made a bread that I can think of that required ovrghient fermenting and I doubt I would for focaccia; it's gone so quickly whenever I serve it that I doubt anyone would notice the extra oomph!I most typically make mine with rosemary and sea salt but thinking next I'm adding caramelized onions. This looks so good Jen.