Some home-baked breads are lofty and light, or twisted like challah, or chewy like an artisan loaf. But the unique feature of Focaccia is the “mini-puddles” all across the top. The ancient, Roman flatbread is made by pressing and stretching the dough into the baking dish with three fingers, causing it to take on the look of an over-tufted mattress.
The basic recipe goes like this. Proof the yeast in warm water and sugar (unless you’re using a sourdough starter). Knead the dough and add flour, olive oil, and salt. Let rise. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a greased mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let rise a second time. Stretch the dough to fill a baking dish, leaving finger indentations on surface.
Before popping the bread into the oven, drizzle the indentations with olive oil, Maldon sea salt, and fresh rosemary. The results are fabulous!
An Ancient Bread with Many Variations
The King Arthur Flour website has more than 17 different versions of the flat, oven-baked bread. In addition to the sourdough version, there’s gluten-free, provolone-oregano, dried fruit, rosemary-grape, cheese-herb, balsamic-glazed cherry, potato, Sicilian style, garlic, and rustic olive.
I’m thinking that by the time we work our way through all of these focaccia recipes, the virus should be abated. 🙂