My husband grew up eating delicious Ligurian focaccia and it is something he misses a lot. In his hometown, focaccia is baked fresh daily and people eat in on the street, wrapped in paper, or for bring it back home for breakfast, snacks or lunch. It’s usually served plain (olive oil, sea salt) but can be flavored with onions, tomatoes, rosemary, sage etc. It can also be filled with Stracchino cheese (pronounced “strakkino”), a specialty in the city of Recco near Genoa.
A few summers ago, my husband’s experimentation began! Baking requires some measuring which goes against my husband’s free-form cooking style (he doesn’t measure ingredients and generally goes by eye and taste). After a few attempts, he perfected focaccia that is crisp with a light, airy texture. Soon we were enjoying delicious focaccia every week! In fact, his focaccia is easily one of the favorite foods among our friends and family, even those who love Ligurian focaccia!
Although it takes a lot of time to prepare, the results are worth it. We have never found anything similar in any Los Angeles restaurant. If they do serve focaccia, it’s more of a thick bread than a true Ligurian-style focaccia.
I lifted the recipe below from a cookbook and I’m positive that my husband has played around with the amounts especially with the olive oil, but here goes:
FOCACCIA FROM GENOA
1 3/4 cups warm water
1 tb traditional baking yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp coarse sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil
about 4 cups (king arthur’s)
Favorite topping options
1) chopped fresh rosemary (mix in with dough to spread throughout) 2) yellow onions 3) cubed pancetta 4) fresh sage leaves 5) black olives
Pour the warm water into a wooden bowl and sprinkle the yeast. Let stand 10 minutes until the yeast is foamy. Pour in the olive oil and mix briefly.
Pour in 1 cup of flour and water and start mixing. Keep adding water and flour until…here is where it gets tricky…I notice that my husband will vary the portion of flour and water until he gets the dough just right – smooth but not sticky. Many people knead the dough on a ; my husband kneads it in the bowl. Take the dough out and oil it, then put the dough back in and turn the dough to coat in the oil. Place a damp towel over the bowl and let sit on the counter for 1 hour.
Press the dough down, turn, re-cover, and let stand another hour. Preheat the oven to 350′. Lightly oil a 12×16 (or similar size) pan and gently press the dough out with your hands to fill the pan. My husband sometimes uses a smaller round pan and creates 2-3 different types of focaccia.
Pour the 2 tb of oil on the dough and rub over the surface.
Sprinkle the dough evenly with the salt. Dimple the dough with your fingers. Cook for 30 minutes, rotate the pan, and cook another 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the foccacia. Watch carefully.
Disclaimer: Ahhh..what makes this blog unique is that most of the recipes will be written by the prep chef (me) or a long-time observer in this case. I really don’t help with the focaccia so take this recipe with a !