The perfect focaccia is light, doughy, salty, sweet, and warm. The top is a gentle, golden brown with the toppings cooked to perfection. It's one of those breads that must be made extremely well in order for it to be good. We've all had an overly doughy, chewy, and dense focaccia. And to be honest, it sucks when that happens. Especially when it's served cold! Focaccia should always be warm because it should feel like you're eating a hug.
History On Focaccia
Focaccia is one of the oldest bread recipes in the world. In ancient Rome, it was called "Panis Focacius" and was made as a flatbread and baked on the hearth. The word focaccia comes from the Latin language "focus" which means baked-on hearth. For Romans, focaccia was considered so important it was offered to the Gods during celebrations. The original recipe of focaccia was a mixture of white flour, a pinch of salt, olive oil, and water. The dough was rolled out using a rolling pin, then placed into an oiled tray, and seasoned with salt and extra virgin olive oil. Finally, it was placed into a hot oven until the surface of the dough turned an even gentle brown.
A lot of cities in Italy have their own focaccia. The most famous is "Genovese focaccia". It's a classic and so simple, with just extra virgin olive oil and salt as the topping. It's traditionally one of the main foods during the appetizer course or during "happy hour" because it pairs well with a good glass of white wine.
You can find focaccia with all kinds of toppings, from roasted vegetables to meat. The sky truly is the limit, however, we tend to lean more towards traditional toppings, such as rosemary, olive oil, and salt. Or focaccia barese which has tomatoes and olives as the toppings. Today, it's one of the most famous simple Italian foods. However, in order for focaccia to truly shine it must be made well, and with the correct balance of sweet and savory.
The most important part of focaccia is the preparation of the dough. There are quite a few steps required to make a great dough, but it's worth it. Don't skip any steps, be patient, and make this well ahead of time. The good thing about this recipe is that it can be prepped pretty far ahead and only takes 8 minutes to cook. Then you just have to slice and serve!
The keyword here is moderation. This isn't pizza, it's focaccia so hold the cheese and sauce. There's no need to go overboard with the toppings. You can use just about any vegetables, we recommend using just 2 or 3. Onions, tomatoes, and olives would be delicious. So would shaved eggplant and oregano. For this recipe, we top ours off with rosemary, salt, and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Enjoy!
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