My latest obsession in the kitchen has 100% been FOCACCIA!! I’ve spent the past fews months playing with different recipes, flours, toppings and techniques. DOUGH IS SO FASCINATING! I still have so much to learn from the focaccia masters but this is what I’ve discovered so far… The best recipe, hands down, is by the lovely Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat author and chef Samin Nosrat for her Ligurian Focaccia recipe. The long (room temperature) fermentation is key! As well as a brining technique during the proofing phase! UGH I LOVE IT SO MUCH! SO FLUFFY!
Having an in house Italian taste tester has also helped my exploration for the best focaccia. Francesco always says to me “Dai, more olive oil!” Excuse me sir!?! There’s already a cup in the… “Trust me. More.Olive.Oil.” Well I can’t argue with a guy who has been eating focaccia (they call it “stria” in Emilia-Romagna) since birth. So folks, when you think it’s too much EVOO and your focaccia is drowning, barely able to keep it’s little bubbles a float… You may still need more. Focaccia basically means “Olive Oil Sponge” in Italian (no. but it should). It will soak up whatever you give it. So why not give it the gift of that fatty, luscious, golden elixir of life.
In this recipe I decided to use Tipo “00” flour or some call it “pizza flour”. It gives the dough a more fluffier, less dense quality. I’ve also used all-purpose and bread flour which have higher protein content and they were good… but “00” has always come out better. Another discovery I’ve found is that I use my round 12″ cast iron pan. I know… not conventional.. but who cares. It comes out looking like a perfect circular, thick, crunchy, wheel of everything good. Let me repeat myself with the word THICK. This little baby is ready to be sliced in the middle and filled with all the Italian necessities of life like prosciutto, prosciutto or… culatello (prosciutto’s fancy cousin). HONESTLY ANYTHING! Explore! Create! Just Eat!
Fact: Italians (my Italians) LOVE mayo. On everything. Especially focaccia/prosciutto panini. They are pretty genius I know. The first panino Francesco’s mother ever made for me was with mayo and prosciutto. I put the mayo first because there was more mayo then prosciutto and bread combined. That’s when I truly fell in love.
1/2 Teaspoon Active dry yeast
2 1/2 Teaspoon Raw Honey
2 1/2 cups of warm water (90-110 degrees)
5 1/3 cups of “00” flour
1 tablespoon of sea salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil for dough (a lot more for bottom of pan and topping)
Cherry Tomatoes halved
Rosemary roughly chopped
Flaky Sea Salt
1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sea salt
Start mixing your 2 1/2 cups warm water with honey and yeast. Stir until dissolved and let sit for a few minutes. In a large (preferably glass) mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and tablespoon of sea salt. Combine yeast water into flour bowl and add 1/4 cup olive oil.
Using a spatula mix all ingredients until they just come together. Finish with a light 1-2 minutes hand kneed in bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit out for 12-14 hours.
The dough should double in size and have lots of air pockets. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with spatula to unstick the dough. Prepare 12″ cast iron pan covering the bottom with a 1/4 inch think layer of olive oil. Slowly lower the dough into pan and stretch out dough to fit pan. If the dough bounces back, let it rest for 10 minutes and then go back to stretching. Repeat until pan filled. Turn oven on to 200 degrees.
Prepare brine by stirring warm water with salt until dissolved.
Dimple dough all over with fingers pushing all the way down to the bottom but not ripping the dough. Pour brine mixture over dough. Turn preheated oven off and put the dough into the oven leaving the door slightly ajar.
After 30 minutes of proofing take out dough and let rest with damp towel overtop. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
After 15 minutes of resting, start assembling your focaccia with toppings. Cherry tomatoes (cut side up), rosemary, olive oil and flakey sea salt.
Bake Focaccia for 25-30 minutes. Keep an eye on it. The top should become slightly browned. Once out of oven, drizzle more olive oil on top and let it soak all of it up in pan. Place on rack and don’t cut into until completely cool.
Store your focaccia wrapped in parchment paper or freeze it for up to 3 months to have focaccia ready on hand!