February 10, 2010

Focaccia alla Genovese


Focaccia alla Genovese
Garlic Focaccia

There's a first time for everything, and this time was my first making focaccia. I've made various other breads, but never once had I made a flatbread of any sort. Somehow I'm not surprised that it's easy. The process takes about 5½ hours, so have something else to do if you want to make this all in one day. This recipe makes 3-4 focacce.

Focaccia alla Genovese

1 packet active dry yeast (2½-3 teaspoons) or 18g fresh yeast
¼ cup warm water

Stir together in a mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer and let sit for about 10 minutes, until the mixture is creamy.
2¼ cups room temperature water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
7 cups flour (bread flour works best, all-purpose flour will be just fine)
1 tablespoon fine sea salt (fleur de sel works nicely)

Add these ingredients to the yeast mixture and mix until the dough comes together. If it's a bit dry or doesn't want to form a dough, add 1-2 tablespoons of room temperature water. If you're using a stand mixture, switch to the dough hook and knead for 4-5 minutes. Otherwise, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for about 6-7 minutes.

Now you're ready for the 1st rise. Put the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise about 1½-2 hours, until doubled in size.

Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a floured work surface. Divide the dough into three or four equal portions. If you're making the whole batch right away, continue below. If you're making all or part of the recipe ahead of time, put the portions you're setting aside into sealable plastic bags and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to one month. If freezing, remove from the freezer and thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Let the chilled dough sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or so to get the chill off and reawaken the yeast before continuing.

Focaccia Proofing
Shape the dough by pulling and stretching or with a roller, then transfer to a piece of lightly-oiled parchment paper on a pizza peel or the back of a sheet pan if you'll be baking it on a stone. If you'll be baking it on a pan, transfer it to a lightly floured sheet pan or cookie sheet. Cover with a dry towel and let it rise for 30 minutes, then dimple it deeply with your fingers. Cover with a moist towel and let it rise for about 2 more hours until it has doubled in depth.

About half an hour or so before the rising is finished, put a baking stone into your oven and preheat the oven to a good high heat, at least 400°F (200°C) but as high as 500°F (260°C) will be just fine. If you're baking on a sheet, preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C.

Now it's time to finish the focaccia. At a minimum, brush on some extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle coarse sea salt over the top. Bake until done, about 20-25 minutes at 400°F. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Focaccia Crumb
Focaccia should be eaten the day it's baked, and it's best while it's still warm and there are still little pools of olive oil in the dimples. You can cut it if you must, but focaccia is a bread that tastes best torn. Add a nice glass of red wine and some simple meats and cheeses, invite some friends, and have a feast!

My favorite variation (so far) is to use oil from my ever-present jar of garlic confit as the oil in the dough as well as on top. I'll also add several cloves of garlic confit to the dough while mixing, along with a generous portion of minced fresh rosemary. When I top the bread, I mash a few cloves of garlic confit with my fingers and gently press it into the dough. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

I'm having a blast trying new variations. Maybe next time I'll add sun-dried tomatoes, minced fresh basil, and pecorino-romano cheese. Or perhaps I'll knead some diced proscuitto into the dough. What's your favorite?

21 comments:

  1. man, does that look good ... I think this is one I must try....

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  2. Wow! This is beautiful! I wish I had seen this earlier today, I would have attempted to make it! But I'm tuckered out from an all-day bake-a-thon.

    Truly beautiful!

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  3. Thanks, Drick and Emily. It takes some time, but it's good enough that I ate a whole focaccia as dinner and loved every bite!

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  4. I should try this one. I havent really baked a real bread, something like this. Im kinda scared with that I might miss out something. But the heck, trial and error is a part of any success... Therefore, i should try baking bread. thanks for sharing this... U

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  5. If you have a stand mixer this is a really easy bread to make. Give it a try. Bread is a lot more forgiving than other things, and as long as you don't forget a step, it'll taste pretty good no matter how it looks. ;)

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  6. I love focaccia! Yours looks wonderful. Bread machines make dough a simple process as well. Do try tomato and Romano cheese, it's yummy.

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  7. I like to make one with mediteranean and (c/k)alamata olives in it...oh the taste is wonderful and the visual from both grean and black olives. Sometimes I reduce the salt both in and on top because these olives have real salty brines.

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  8. I've always been afraid of bread but this sounds so easy...especially with all that garlic. Yum!!

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  9. That looks delicious. I love fresh bread of any kind, but fresh focaccia dipped in Olive oil and Balsamic vinegar is the best.

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  10. I too just started making focaccia; I am so, so glad I did! Now it is 'a part' of our lives (esp. since we are living in Italy for year---I was all out of excuses!)

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  11. Oh yum, I'm definitely going to have to try this! My fave focaccia recipe to date is this one: http://wednesdaychef.typepad.com/the_wednesday_chef/2008/01/focaccia-di-pat.html It's delicious, but I think I also like it because it's SUPER easy. LOL

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  12. Oh, that's a nice easy recipe. Thanks!

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  13. This looks fabulous! I can't believe I have not made this yet. Maybe this is the push I need :)

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  14. Love all your amazing recipes! I appreciate the follow and wanted to check out your stuff...the foccacia looks amazing--I also make kombucha which i use as a tea but have heard you can use it as a rising agent as well in your poolish. Gonna use your recipe and try it and will let you know how it goes! There is almost nothing better than the smell of fresh baked bread in the house! :) Take care and keep on cookin!

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  15. Love Focaccia, this looks so good:0

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  16. Kayle (The Cooking Actress)April 26, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    Ooh that focaccia looks delicious, makes me even more anxious to make some!

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  17. Lovely looking bread!

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  18. Looks gorgeous! Makes me want to build a pizza based on it... yum... :)

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  19. Viviane Bauquet FarreApril 27, 2012 at 4:52 AM

    Very impressive bread. It definitely appears worth the effort and time investment. Nothing can quite compare to fresh, homemade loaves of focaccia!

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