Friday, August 16, 2013

Focaccia – Surprisingly, Not Italian for “Fingers”

Some younger foodwishers may not realize this, but there was a time, before the Internet, when not everyone knew everything about everything. These days, if you’re wondering what “focaccia” means, you Google it, and all is revealed. In case you’re wondering, it comes from the Latin word for “hearth,” but that’s not what pre-Wikipedia Chef John thought.

Nope, I figured focaccia meant, “fingers.” Since the signature characteristic of the bread is the deeply dimpled surface, and those holes are created using well-oiled fingers, it made perfect sense. Plus, fingers starts with an “f,” as does focaccia, which reinforced my brilliant theory. Anyway, now we know.

This is such a fun and versatile bread to make. I went with a simple, but classic rosemary and sea salt topping, but a web search for focaccia will turn up more than just the definition. You'll see dozens of different and delicious toppings with which to accessorize your slab.

A few of my favorites would be chopped olives, caramelized onions, and sliced grapes. You can add pretty much anything to the top when you do the old finger poke, and proceed as demonstrated. Of course, depending on your garnishes, you may have to cook it a little longer, but I’m sure you’ll figure that out. No matter how you customize it, I hope you give this classic flat bread a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 6 large portions:

– Combine:
1 package (.25 oz) active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105 F.)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup semolina flour
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
2 3/4 cups *bread flour (don’t mix in all the flour in this step; reserve about 1/4 cup for the kneading)
*As with all dough recipes, you may need a little less or little more flour. The total weight I added was about 12 oz.
*This will work with just all-purpose flour, but I prefer the bread flour and semolina

– Mix in bowl until a sticky dough forms, then knead with reserved flour and 2 additional tablespoons of olive oil, for about 7-8 minutes, until you have a smooth, elastic, but slightly sticky dough.

– Let rise until doubled, flatten on oiled pan, let rest 15 minutes, drizzle with olive oil, poke dough with finger tips, let rise 45 minutes or until doubled, brush lightly with olive oil, top with more rosemary and sea salt.

– Bake at 475 degrees F. for 14-15 minutes

View the complete recipe

33 comments:

Roberto said...

As an American living in Italy, it always amazes me to see a Mom come into a cafĂ© or bar with two young kids, one of which asks for an ice cream on a stick and the other who asks for a piece of focaccia as an afternoon snack. Both kids are perfectly contented and I’m left wondering if this would ever happen in the U.S. By the way readers should avoid going overboard on the toppings; this ain’t no pizza. However, it’s common for bar owners to brush the top with a VERY thin coating of tomato sauce and cut the focaccia into small squares to go with an aperitivo.

PB said...

Chef John that looks amazing! I've been trying your different breads as my summer project. After the ciabatta and the sourdough I was just thinking, wouldn't it be nice if he did focaccia? Thank you so much for posting this. I can't wait to try it.

Do you know if there's a good way to add garlic and cheese? Should I crush the garlic and sprinkle it on top or knead it into the dough like the rosemary?

edward said...

Hey Chef, I've been traveling abroad a few years now and am often stuck with only the use of a toaster oven - two breads that always turn out well in a toaster - focaccia and "pan de bono". Just a heads up to anyone this bread is absolutely easy and delicious. If you have not had pan de bono it is an international crime perpetrated against Americans - I really recommend you show them how it's done. Also I keep reading you shouldn't put too much on the focaccia, but I won't lie - I often divide it into two thin sheets of bread - after baking - and use it as a pizza crust.

Sharath Vasishta said...

Hi Chef, please us know a great topping that has garlic. This bread reminds me of garlic bread

blogagog said...

Hah. I thought focaccia was a plant. Turns out I was thinking of forsythia.

Thanks for edifying me.

blogagog said...

Sorry to double comment, but I'm curious - why did you use foil? Is it better than Saran wrap or a wet kitchen towel?

Inquiring chef wannabes want to know.

Chef John said...

PB, you can add to the top, or push it in when you dimple!

Chef John said...

You can use anything to cover, as you're juts keeping it draft free. I use all 3! For longer rises I may use damp towel to add moisture, but it really doesn't matter.

Carlitos said...

As a topping I usually make a olive oil, oregano and garlic paste, spread it over the focaccia before it's completely cooked, then put some kosher salt. the salt will metl with the heat giving even more taste to the paste and the bread.

Jessica said...

Chef john, what do you usually do with leftover foccaccia? I always want to try recipes like this but don't know how to preserve the mass quantity of leftovers! Will it keep in the freezer?

Jackie Rivas said...

Is there a substitute for the semolina flour chef?

Alaskan Girl said...

I live in Alaska, at what temp is it needing to be at for raising the dough? Did you preheat your oven and then turn off. This recipe I would really like to have with salmon chowder. :)

Chef John said...

Just use regular flour!

Beth said...

There is no replacement for good technique – I have not been making my dimples deep enough! Thank you for showing us the proper way to do this! Btw, I like to add some mashed potatoes to focaccia dough; adds moisture and flavor.

Chef John said...

Yes, I just heat my oven for a few seconds until its about 80 degrees, and that's perfect for me.

Chef John said...

I'll have to try the potato trick!

Chef John said...

Jessica, I usually don't have leftovers, but you can freeze, and then use those for a panini or quick pizza base. It's better to toast or bake the leftovers in case they've gotten dry.

Dan said...

How about substituting Garlic Olive Oil for regular olive oil?

Kelsey said...

This is my first time making any kind of bread - you always make it look so easy and inspire me to try new things! It is rising now - I'm so excited! Thank you Chef John!

PJ said...

I started mine with a biga. It gave the Focaccia almost a sourdough flavor which went great with your topping.

mattjeast said...

You mentioned butter in the video. Have you ever tried making a less authentic version of the recipe with melted butter?

Chef John said...

I've not!

Zoe said...

Chef!! an we do focaccia with whole wheat flour??

Chef John said...

Sure! Just won't taste as good!

Preetinder Kaur said...

Hi Chef! I could only find rapid rise yeast at the local grocery store. Would that work? If yes, how would the recipe change? Thank you!

Chef John said...

Yes! Enjoy!

Dean Darrow said...

Chef, is the 2 T oil what goes in the dough initially, and the rest that is drizzled is extra? If not, how much of the 2 T goes in the bowl? Thanks for a great blog.

Chef John said...

Yes 2 initially!

Spices of your Life said...

I love this recipe. Simple yet delicious. Baking it now. I have learnt a lesson though. Long nail-person won't enjoy poking the dough lol

Sharon said...

I made two loaves of focaccia bread yesterday- one using your recipe, and the other using Noreen's (from Noreen's Kitchen). They were both simply amazing! And they are both simply gone! This dough is absolutely wonderful to work with! Thank you from the whole family- we most certainly did 'Enjoy'

juliabritendark said...

I made this recipe to go with an antipasto platter that I took to a holiday gathering.....I infused the olive oil with garlic.....and instead of salt, I sprinkled fresh parmesan....it was surprisingly easy and rewarding to make.....and a big hit.....I made a double batch and it was all gone at the end.....merry christmas and thank you chef john!

Marcelo said...

Chef, thanks for sharing this great recipe! Since I'm vegan, I finally found a recipe without egg, honey, cheese or milk ;)

nick0ZERO said...

thanks for your recipe and instructions - i'll give it a try.