05 April 2010

Memories of Focaccia

Life is crazy again and yet I yearn to do a little something special for supper! Focaccia bread is just the thing! We had homemade focaccia bread in Matera, Italy and this recipe takes me back to that mountainous, misty area with goats running across the twisty roads, ancient olive trees and fresh goat yogurt from a bucket. We were welcomed to the home of olive oil and cheese producers in a movie setting! (The Passion of the Christ was filmed in Matera) It was one of the most memorable and beautiful places I've seen to date! We ate focaccia bread with different toppings, wine, goat yogurt with chestnut honey and a lovely lemon tart.

The smell of bread baking is so instinctively comforting and hunger inducing! I've never experienced an angry person in my kitchen while bread is baking! (This includes teenagers, small children and animals!) I use a 10 inch stoneware dish for this bread, so I prefer to split the dough in half for a bit thinner bread, or you can use a larger jelly roll pan for the whole batch!

I have also changed the yeast in this recipe for INSTANT yeast. This really cuts down the time required to make bread, but does leave a more yeasty flavor behind. Feel free to use dry active yeast and proof accordingly. This dough also keeps well in the fridge for fresh focaccia in about 45 minutes!


1 Tablespoon Instant Yeast
1 ¼ cups hot water (115 degrees)
2 Tablespoons sugar
3 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided

In your mixing bowl, blend water, yeast, 1 Tablespoon of EVOO and sugar. Add all of the flour and salt. Using the dough hook, blend at low speed until dough forms ball on hook. Continue kneading additional 3-4 minutes until dough looks shiny and all flour has been incorporated.

Coat dough with 2 Tablespoons EVOO and let double in size (about 15 minutes), punch down. Liberally oil (with EVOO) a 12-13” round pan and press half of the dough into bottom. Make depressions with your fingertips. Let rise until dough has doubled (15-30 minutes) and add toppings, drizzle with EVOO and sprinkle with salt.

Bake 450 degrees for 25-35 (whole batch of dough or 18 minutes for a half batch of dough) minutes until golden brown and dough has cooked through.

Herbs, cheeses, tomatoes, anchovies, roasted peppers, salami, spinach. The sky is the limit on toppings!

Our favorite is: add 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 Tablespoon fresh Rosemary and 1/4 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano to dough. Top with 3 Tablespoons each: grated Romano and Fontina and a few more sprigs of Rosemary.

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