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The story of Maria
It was a warm summer day in the small Italian town of Genoa. The sun was shining down on the cobblestone streets, and the scent of freshly baked bread filled the air. Maria, a local baker, was busy in her kitchen, preparing her famous focaccia.
Maria had learned the art of baking from her grandmother, who had passed down the recipe for the perfect focaccia. She knew that the key to a good focaccia was in the dough. It had to be soft, yet chewy, with just the right amount of air pockets.
Maria began by mixing the flour, water, yeast, and salt in a large mixing bowl. She kneaded the dough for several minutes until it was smooth and elastic. She then set the dough aside to rise, covered with a damp towel.
As the dough was rising, Maria prepared the toppings. She drizzled olive oil over the top of the dough and sprinkled it with fresh rosemary. She then added sliced tomatoes, black olives, and a generous amount of grated parmesan cheese.
Once the dough had risen, Maria gently stretched it out onto a baking sheet. She used her fingers to make dimples in the dough, allowing the toppings to seep into the bread as it baked.
As the focaccia baked in the oven, Maria could hear the sizzle of the olive oil and the aroma of the rosemary. She knew that it was almost ready.
Finally, the focaccia was done. Maria carefully removed it from the oven and placed it on a wire rack to cool. The bread was golden brown and crispy on the outside, yet soft and chewy on the inside. The toppings had melded together to create a delicious blend of flavors.
Maria cut a slice of the focaccia and took a bite. The bread was warm and comforting, with a subtle hint of rosemary. The tomatoes were juicy and sweet, while the olives added a salty kick. The parmesan cheese added a rich, nutty flavor that tied everything together.
Maria knew that her focaccia was a hit. It was the perfect bread to share with friends and family, to enjoy as a snack or as part of a meal. It was a bread that brought people together, and that was something that Maria was proud of.
As the sun began to set over Genoa, Maria closed up her bakery for the day. She knew that she would be back in the kitchen tomorrow, baking more of her famous focaccia. And she knew that the people of Genoa would be waiting, eager to taste the bread that had become a staple of their town.
Focaccia: A Delicious History
Focaccia is a flatbread that has been enjoyed for centuries in Italy and around the world. It is a versatile bread that can be enjoyed on its own, as a sandwich, or as a side dish. In this blog post, we will explore the history of focaccia, its different variations, and how to make it at home.
History of Focaccia
Focaccia originated in ancient Rome, where it was known as panis focacius. The word “focaccia” comes from the Latin word “focus,” which means “hearth” or “fireplace.” The bread was originally baked in the ashes of the hearth, which gave it a unique flavor and texture.
In the Middle Ages, focaccia was a staple food for sailors and soldiers. It was easy to make and could be stored for long periods of time. Focaccia was also used as a bartering tool, as it was highly valued and could be traded for other goods.
During the Renaissance, focaccia became more refined and was enjoyed by the wealthy. It was often served at banquets and feasts, and was sometimes flavored with herbs and spices.
Today, focaccia is enjoyed all over the world, and has become a popular bread for sandwiches, pizza crusts, and more.
Variations of Focaccia
Focaccia comes in many different variations, depending on the region and the ingredients used. Here are a few of the most popular variations:
Genovese focaccia is a classic Italian focaccia that is made with olive oil, salt, and rosemary. It is typically served as an appetizer or snack, and is often paired with a glass of wine.
Pizza focaccia is a hybrid of pizza and focaccia. It is made with pizza toppings such as tomato sauce, cheese, and vegetables, but is baked like a traditional focaccia. It is a popular dish in Italy and around the world.
Focaccia di Recco
Focaccia di Recco is a specialty focaccia from the Liguria region of Italy. It is made with a thin layer of dough and filled with stracchino cheese. It is baked until the cheese is melted and the crust is crispy.
Focaccia Barese is a specialty focaccia from the Puglia region of Italy. It is made with potatoes and is typically served as a side dish or snack.
How to make focaccia
Making focaccia at home is easy and fun. Here is a simple recipe for classic Genovese focaccia:
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, water, yeast, and salt. Mix until the dough comes together.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic.
- Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with a damp towel. Let the dough rise for 1-2 hours, or until it has doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Grease a baking sheet with olive oil. Turn the dough out onto the baking sheet and stretch it out to cover the entire sheet.
- Use your fingers to make dimples in the dough. Drizzle olive oil over the top of the dough and sprinkle with rosemary.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving.
Focaccia is a delicious bread with a rich history and many variations. Whether you prefer classic Genovese focaccia or a more modern pizza focaccia, there is a version of this bread that will suit your tastes. So why not try making your own focaccia at home and experience the delicious taste and aroma of this classic bread?
Recipe: Focaccia Au Gratin
The Focaccia Au Gratin is a little bit more special I think, than just a generic Genovese style focaccia. There’s nothing wrong with the simplicity of the Genovese – don’t get me wrong – but the ones like the Au Gratin have a few more hearty ingredients and therefore could serve as pizza hybrids almost, or meals on their own.
I like the combination of flavours in the Au Gratin. Soft yet crispy potato, salt flakes, freshly cracked pepper, fresh spring onions and garlic and of course – rosemary – all call for a delightful yet light focaccia that packs a huge flavour punch!
Focaccia Au Gratin
This recipe is one of those you keep in a binder and refer to often. And you know when you’ve memorised the ingredient ratios you’ve really made it so much and had so much joy out of it that you can recite it better than a national anthem! It is seriously, that good. Take the time to make it. Please.
1 large potato, peeled and sliced on a mandolin
3 sprigs of rosemary
1 clove of garlic
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 spring onion
Approx 150-200g shredded cheese
Freshly cracked black pepper
Sea salt flakes
- I used the Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast recipe for the focaccia. Simply: add 700g warm water to 1000g of flour and mix until just combined. Let rest. After 30 mins, fold in salt and yeast. This dough will need 3 folds at 30 minute intervals. Then, leave to rest overnight. Using your hands, shape the focaccia dough into your sheet pan or skillet before baking.
- Thinly slice your baking potato. Place potato slices into a bowl filled with cold water and let them sit for 15 minutes or until the water is a bit starchy/cloudy.
- If shredding your own cheese, do this now, otherwise, prepare your shredded cheese in a bowl and leave to the side.
- Peel and thinly slice three to four spring onions and prepare your rosemary by removing the needles from their sprigs. You can use chives, thyme or shallots here too.
- Preheat oven to 220C and place rack in the bottom position of the oven.
- When you’re ready to start adding your toppings and your dough has been spread on your baking tray/skillet, remove the potatoes from the water and dry them completely. Coat the potatoes, shallots and rosemary lightly with a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil in individual bowls.
- Drizzle the focaccia with a little bit of olive oil and dimple it. Scatter 3/4 of the spring onion across the top of the dimpled dough. Then top with 1/3 of the shredded cheese. Dot the rosemary and green onion across the top of the dough.
- Place the thinly sliced potatoes in one layer over the entire focaccia.
- Sprinkle the top with a good handful of flaky sea salt and lots of freshly cracked black pepper.
- Bake for 15 minutes and then remove from oven and quickly sprinkle on the remaining cheese.
- Return to oven and finish baking for another 12-15 minutes or so. The bread and topping should be golden brown with the potatoes and cheese crisping up on the edges.
- Let cool for at least 15-20 minutes before cutting in and eating.