Focaccia is a flat, Italian bread that is baked in the oven. It can be topped with fresh herbs, olives, a variety of vegetables, as well as meat (i.e. prosciutto). Focaccia is an extremely old bread; it’s over 2,000 years old, and historians believe it originated either with the Etruscans or the Greeks. The name Focaccia actually stems from the Latin name for panis focacius which means “hearth” or “fireside” since the Ancient Romans used to bake it in their stone ovens. Today, there are numerous types of Focaccia all over Italy. Focaccia in Florence is actually called Schiacciata. You can’t pass a bakery or a panini stand without seeing this bread in the window. It’s typically made with sea salt and rosemary, but sometimes it’s used for paninis as well. This dough is very similar to pizza dough and may even look like some of our Chicago-style, thicker pizzas. But in Italy, Focaccia is much thicker than the thin-crusted, Napolitano pizza. In the US, Focaccia is very popular for sandwiches. The fluffiness and thickness of this bread makes it much more substantial than sliced bread. It’s best eaten warm, right out of the oven.
My mother-in-Lawlor makes delicious Focaccia bread, and it’s something my husband has grown up on. I’ve made Focaccia before, but generally just use the fresh herbs. I decided to take it up a notch and make mine with onion, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh rosemary, and some toasted pinenuts. The recipe for the dough actually comes from one of my cookbooks entitled Florence. I’ve seen various different recipes for Focaccia and all seem slightly different.
What would your favorite Focaccia toppings be? Do you have a special recipe you use?
Buon appetito miei amici!
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 1 3/4 cups warm water (105-115 degrees F)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp coarse sea salt, plus extra for seasoning
- 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 c sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
- 2 tbsp pinenuts, toasted
- In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water for about 5 minutes until foamy.
- Add the sugar, olive oil, flour, and the sea salt to the yeast. If using a stand mixer, knead with the dough hook for 5-7 minutes. If kneading by hand, mix the dough with a wooden spoon and knead for 5-7 minutes adding flour to prevent sticking.
- Form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature for 1 hour.
- Lightly oil a sheet pan and turn dough out into the pan. Press the dough evenly into the pan and cover loosely with a dry kitchen towel. Let the dough rise for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees .
- Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in the pan on medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until caramelized, about 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic, tomatoes, rosemary, and pinenuts and saute for another 2 minutes.
- With your thumb, lightly dimple the dough.
- Spread the onion mixture over the bread and sprinkle with the sea salt.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.
- Cut bread into squares and serve warm. (Can be frozen for up to 2 weeks.)