Hi, everyone! We are Rachael of pizzarossa and Sawsan of Chef in Disguise, and we are excited to be your hosts this month for focaccia! We have chosen 4 different recipes to tempt you with – a traditional Italian yeasted focaccia, a sourdough focaccia, an Argentinian yeasted fugazza, and an unleavened, cheese-filled focaccia di Recco.
Focaccia di Recco
Blog checking lines:
For the month of April Rachael of pizzarossa and Sawsan of Chef in Disguise took us on a trip to Italy. They challenged us to try our hands at making focaccia from scratch
You can find the PDF here
April 27, 2015
Focaccia is a type of flat Italian bread that is baked in the oven. The term focaccia is derived from the latin Panis focacius which means bread that is baked in the ashes. Focaccia can be topped with a variety of toppings ranging from rosemary and sea salt to different types of cheese, herbs, vegetables and even fruit.
The word “fugazza” is an Argentinian derivation of the Italian word “focaccia” – indicative of the prominent Italian population in that South American country and of the influence if Italian cuisine there. Very similar to an Italian focaccia, it’s usually cooked in a cast iron skillet and is generally thicker than an Italian focaccia. There is also a version called fugazzeta, which is the same but stuffed with mozzarella.
Focaccia di Recco is from the northern coastal region of Italy called Liguria. It is unleavened and stuffed with Stracchino (Crescenza), which is a very young cheese with a fine rind barely encapsulating a gooey cheese much like a very thick mascarpone. It is very messy but utterly delicious!
Mandatory Items: Make focaccia, either using one of these recipes or another one you like.
Variations allowed: There are endless options for topping focaccia, from savoury to sweet. Go crazy!
Preparation time: Depends on the recipe – about 2 hours including proofing and baking, except for the sourdough, which could take up to 24 hours.
Measuring cups and spoons
Recipe 1: Basic Focaccia
Prep: 15 min
Servings: 8 slices
2-3/4 cups (660 ml) (385 gm) (13½ oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) white sugar
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (8½ gm) active dry yeast
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (3 gm) garlic powder
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (3 gm) dried oregano
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (3 gm) dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 pinch ground black pepper
1 tablespoon (15 ml) vegetable oil
1¼ cups (300 ml) milk (you may need up to 1½ cups (360 ml))
2 tablespoon (30 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
For the topping
Pitted black olives
Cherry tomatoes sliced into thin slices and placed on a towel to draw out moisture
Fresh rosemary chopped
Sea salt (or regular salt)
Olive oil for topping
In a bowl mix the milk, yeast and sugar and wait until it becomes foamy and bubbly (This indicates that your yeast is active, if the yeast doesn’t bubble and foam it has gone bad and you can’t use it)
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, , garlic powder, oregano, thyme, basil, 1 tablespoon (15 ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) parmesan cheese and black pepper.
Mix in the vegetable oil, then add the milk-yeast mixture.
Stir with a wooden spoon till the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic (around 10 minutes)
Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil.
Cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place until it doubles in size. (If you are tight on time you could heat your oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 then turn it off and place the bowl with the dough in it)
Center your oven rack, preheat oven to hot 450°F/230°C/gas mark 8.
Punch dough down; place on greased baking sheet. Pat into a ½ -inch (15 mm) thick rectangle or any shape you desire.
To give the dough the dimples effect, use your fingertips , pushing gently all over the surface of the dough
Place your selected topping
Brush top generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, rosemary and salt.
Allow the dough to rest for 10-15 minutes
Bake in preheated hot 450°F/230°C/gas mark 8 oven for 15 minutes, or until the sides begin to brown then place under the broiler (grill) till the top becomes golden brown.
Recipe 2: Sourdough focaccia
Servings: 16 slices
4 cups (1 liter) (540 gm) (19 oz) bread flour
1 cup (250 ml) active-fed sourdough starter (100 % hydration)
2 cups (500 ml) water
1½ teaspoon (9 gm) salt
2 tablespoon (30 ml) olive oil (plus more for the top once bread is formed)
your choice of toppings – herbs, spices, fruits, vegetables – the choices are endless!
In a large bowl mix the flour, sourdough starter and water until the dough comes together into a wet and sticky mass
Let this dough rest for 30 minutes.
Add salt and 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of olive oil to the dough.
Knead the dough until a thin opaque film can be stretched from the dough between fingers “window pane stage”.
The hydration of this dough is roughly 80% (by weight) so it will feel really wet and sloppy to start with but the more you knead it, the better the texture becomes
Cover the dough and leave it in a warm place until it doubles. It should look bubbly on the top.
This can take anything between 6 hours at 25°C (77°F) to 20 hours at 4°C (40°F)
If you do the mixing at night and don’t want to risk over fermenting, just stick it into your fridge and bring it out the next day.
Once the dough has risen, scrap the sides and fold into the center gently, then turn it onto a baking tray lined with a baking sheet
Drizzle with some olive oil
Gently spread the dough out evenly to 2-3cm (¾ -1 inches) thickness. Be as gentle as you can so the dough doesn’t deflate too much.
Use your finger tips to make dimples all over the dough
Put on your toppings and a few grinds of sea salt then drizzle a good coating of olive oil over the top.
Allow the dough to rest while you heat your oven
Preheat your oven as high as it can get; to hot 450°F/230°C/gas mark 8 is good, or to very hot 500°F/250°C/gas mark 10 is even better. Also preheat a baking stone if you have one.
After the dough has rested about 30 minutes, put the focaccia into the oven and mist with some water to create steam.
Bake in the preheated hot or very hot oven for 20-30 minutes depending on how thick your focaccia is. When the crust is set on both the top and bottom, and you can pick it up without it bending or deforming, and it sounds hollow when you tap on it, it should be cooked through. You may want to cover it with a piece of foil if it starts to brown too much to your liking
Take the focaccia out of the oven, cover it with a clean towel. Allow it to cool down
Recipe 3: Fugazza
Servings: 16 slices
Preparation time: 90 minutes (including proofing)
Baking time: 20 minutes
2¾ cups (660 ml) (12-1/3 oz) (350gm) bread flour
150ml (10 tablespoons) olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (6 gm) kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (6 gm) instant dry or active dry yeast
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) sugar
1 cup (250 ml) warm water
1 large white onion
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (6 gm) dried oregano
grated Parmesan (optional)
thinly sliced mozzarella (optional)
If using active dry yeast: Pour the warm water (100-105° F/38-40°C) into a small bowl. Stir in the sugar and yeast. Set aside for 5-10 minutes, until frothy.
If using instant dry yeast: Add the yeast and the sugar with the flour.
Whisk together the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, add 5 tablespoons (75 ml) of olive oil and mix together briefly using a spoon or the dough hook.
Add the yeast and water mixture and begin to knead. The mixture should come together as a soft, stretchy dough, pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Add a bit more flour if mixture is too wet, or a bit more water if mixture seems dry or too firm. Knead for 5-10 minutes, until dough is smooth, soft and elastic.
Transfer the dough to a large, clean, oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
While the dough is rising, peel, halve and slice the onion lengthwise into very thin strips. Submerge the sliced onion in a bowl of cold, salted water and soak for 30 minutes. Drain onions well and dry with paper towels.
Preheat oven to hot 450°F/230°C/gas mark 8 with a rack in the middle.
Once it has risen, punch down the dough and shape into a smooth ball. Pour 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of olive oil into a large cast iron skillet or medium sized pizza pan with at least 1”/2.5cm sides. Place the ball of dough in the middle of the pan and press out gently with your fingers. Let dough relax for about 10 minutes.
Continue to press dough out into the pan, letting it relax for a few minutes each time as necessary, until dough covers the bottom of the pan. It should take 3 – 5 repetitions, depending on the size of the pan.
Sprinkle the onions over the top of the dough. Drizzle a tablespoon (15 ml) or two (30 ml) of olive oil over the onions, and sprinkle with the dried oregano, rubbing it between your fingertips while doing so to bring out the flavour.
Place the fugazza in the centre of the preheated hot oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until the edges start to turn golden brown. If desired, remove fugazza from oven after 15 minutes and top with thin slices of mozzarella and sprinkle with grated Parmesan then return to oven and bake until the fugazza is golden brown and crispy around the edges. Brown the onions under the oven grill or broiler for the last 2 – 3 minutes of cooking, if desired.
Remove from the oven, allow to cool enough to handle and cut into wedges or squares to serve.
Recipe 4: Focaccia di Recco
Servings: 16 pieces
Preparation time: 90 minutes (including resting)
Baking time: 6 minutes
If you can’t get Stracchino (Crescenza), you can use another young, melty cheese – I have used fresh mozzarella with good results.
This recipe will make more dough than you need if you roll it as thinly as is traditionally done, but you can freeze the excess, well wrapped in a ziploc bag, for several months.
3¾ cups (900 ml) (17-2/3 oz) (500 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour
pinch course sea salt, plus extra for topping
45ml (3 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for oiling and topping
1¼ cups (300 ml) water
500 gm (17-2/3 oz) Stracchino (Crescenza) cheese
In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt and form a well in the middle. Add cold water and 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of olive oil. Start mixing the dough with a fork, incorporating the flour little by little.
Once the dough has come together, start kneading it with your hands. Knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth. When the dough is ready, wrap it well with plastic wrap, being sure to expel all the air so your dough doesn’t dry out, and let it rest for an hour at room temperature.
Preheat oven to very hot 480°F/250°C/gas mark 9.
Divide the dough into two equal parts and roll each piece out on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin, trying to keep them as round and as thin as possible. I rolled these ones a little thick, because we find it easier to handle when it’s more sturdy, but traditionally it should be almost transparent.
Grease a medium sized round pizza tray (not the type with holes in it, or you will have a very messy oven) or baking dish with olive oil. Place one layer of dough on the bottom of the dish. Add the cheese in pieces using your hands.
Cover the cheese with the second sheet of dough. Use a knife or a pair of kitchen shears to remove any excess dough from around the edges of the pan.
Seal the edges by pinching them together. Snip small holes into the top layer of dough so that the steam can escape during baking. Brush with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
Bake in the centre of a preheated very hot oven for 6 – 8 minutes, until golden. When the focaccia is done, remove it from the oven and let cool enough to be handled.
Transfer to a platter, cut it and serve as an appetizer or with an aperitif.
Storage & Freezing Instructions/Tips:
Fugazza – can be refrigerated overnight and reheated the next day or eaten cold (think leftover pizza).
Focaccia di Recco – best eaten immediately.