Saturday, May 06, 2006

Focaccia Genovese – Traditional

Focaccia is a treat for Italian kids as much as candy bars and soda pop are for US kids. Raffaella often speaks with fondness of going to school in the morning and sneaking into the bread store to buy a hot piece of focaccia. My daughters would do the same. When I would take them out on Saturday morning it was either briosche or focaccia. I must admit that many times I would buy a slice of focaccia as a snack and one of my favorite panini is made with a focaccia split in half, tuna and cheese then grilled for about 5 minutes.

Focaccia is a savory bread. In Italy it is wrapped in a piece of absorbent paper to keep your hands from becoming greasy. Remember that this is olive oil and not some elaborate industrial oil so it does not have the same negative effects of other oils.

When visiting a restaurant in the US the waiter will most likely bring wafer like piece of focaccia and some olive oil. Most US Italian restaurants are southern Italian cooking. A pizza without toppings and cooked in the oven will sometimes be referred to as a focaccia however it is actually Pizza Bianca, or pizza without toppings. Northern Italy refers to focaccia a leavened pizza dough, saturated with olive oil, covered with large grain sea salt and cooked in the oven. The usual height will be two to three fingers high and may be simply olive oil and salt or as elaborate as a pizza. In any case it is a favorite treat.

The basic focaccia is Focaccia Genovese or simply olive oil and sea salt. Once the dough is leavened, indentations are created by pressing the dough with your fingers. Olive oil is then poured on the dough until the all of the indentations are filled and large grain sea salt is then spread over the entire surface. A quick pat to fix the salt and the focaccia goes into the oven.

Focaccia is a perfect snack, appetizer or bread for a savory sandwich.


Pizza Dough
Olive Oil
Medium or Large grain Sea Salt

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Once the pizza dough has risen for about 1 hr. longer if desired, flour your hands. Using only fingertips press firmly into the dough to create evenly spread indentations over the entire surface of the dough.

Pour olive oil liberally over the top filling all of the indentations. Be careful not to allow the olive oil to spill over the edge into the pan.

Sprinkle sea salt liberally across the entire surface. Pat the salt into the dough with minimum pressure.

Bake for 25-27 minutes.


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Anonymous Steph said...

This is very interesting. I'm in the UK and have had wonderful focaccia at one particular restaurant, but if I order it anywhere else it's v dissapointing - as you describe it in the USA.

I suspect my favourite restaurant is probably serving northern italian food.

Great stuff here on your blog - very inspiring!! I think I might have to have a go at this - and making some biga when I get a little braver and am not away with work so much :-)


11:54 AM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

Steph - To properly prepare the biga only the first 4 or 5 days are really important that you work with it every day. Once the biga is on its way you can keep it in the fridge and replenish every 3-4 days.

I make some type of bread about 5 times a week. It relaxes me and the real time involved is very little, the rest is letting it rise.

Let me know how it turns out!

12:01 PM

Anonymous Grins said...

Oh yum, I am now officially hungry thanks to this post. Here via BE.

12:46 PM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

Grins - You should know that I am making Focaccia with Onions right now. In about an hour Raffaella and I will pour some wine and munch on focaccia!

I am hungry also.

2:26 PM

Blogger Jerry said...

it must be much better than candy for kids. such soulful food grows people's soul. human being need it.

7:45 PM

Blogger a.c.t said...

Mouth waters.....formaggio o pure cippola...

11:55 AM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

Jerry - I agree, a good old fashioned treat, bread and olive oil is certainly better than a candy bar and soda pop.

ACT - I prepared the onion version the other night. With a good Pinot Grigio, it did not last long!

3:40 AM

Blogger Tracie B. said...

oh lawdy, i remember being in vernazza and seeing sleepy-eyed ligurians walking with a piece of fresh focaccia in their hands. che buona!

8:18 AM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

Tracie b. - I am glad to see you made it back from Ischia. I heard the mudslide was pretty scary.

8:49 AM

Blogger Tracie B. said...

yes, you can still see the lines. they look like 3 brown ski slopes. i'm so sorry for the poor mother, she lost her 3 daughters and husband. they've evacuated the area, so hopefully there won't be any more lives lost.

2:36 AM


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