Ligurian Deep Focaccia Bread / Ligure Profondo Focaccia Pane
In Genova, the capital city of Liguria, freshly baked focaccia studded with basil leaves enhances almost every table. But as you travel to the different regions of Italy, the herbs and flavourings will change from rosemary to oregano to olives, onion, and tomatoes. The variety of toppings on the Italian focaccia is endless.” Lidia Bastianich
- 500 g Italian ’00’ flour or unbleached plain white flour, plus extra as necessary
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 15 g fresh yeast, 1 tablespoon dried active yeast or 1 x 7g sachet of fast-action dried yeast
- 100 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 300 ml hand-hot water
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped into small pieces
- coarse sea salt or rock salt
- Sift the flour and fine sea salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Crumble in the fresh yeast, or add the sachet of fast acting dried yeast, if using. Pour in 50 ml of the olive oil, and then rub in the yeast until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Pour in the hand-hot water and mix together with your hands until the dough comes together.
- Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured wooden surface, wash and dry your hands and knead energetically for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. The dough should be very soft, smooth and elastic (almost too soft to handle), but don’t worry about it too much at this stage.
- Shape the dough into a flattened ball and place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Brush the top of the dough with a little olive oil, cover with clingfilm and a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size – about 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, in a saucepan gently heat some olive oil and add the chopped garlic. Stir frequently and cook for 2 to 3 minutes before getting brown in colour. Then turn off the heat immediately and set aside in a bowl. Leave to cool and then add 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, leaving the flavours to infuse.
- Uncover the dough and transfer it onto a lightly floured wooden surface. Knead it 3 or 4 times to knock out the air and shape into a flatttened ball. Gently roll out into a 25-cm to 30 cm rectangle about 1 cm thick and place on the oiled tray or pan. Cover loosely with clingfilm and a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F) Gas 6.
- Uncover and gently stretch the dough into a rectangular shape with your fingers and palms. Aim to keep the dough about 1cm thick.
- Dust lightly with flour and push your fingertips into the dough to make deep dimples all over the surface (but don’t overdo it). Exclude the thumb and little finger, use your finger pads not fingernails and try to keep the palm of the hand as much as possible facing the surface. Cover loosely with clingfilm and a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
- Uncover and pour the infused garlic and oil over the surface. (# If using olives or onion push them into the dimples.) Sprinkle some coarse sea salt over the top.
- Bake in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes until risen and the crust is golden on top. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- Serve warm with a meal or as a snack with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar to dip into.
- # At this stage a variety of toppings can be added. For example, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, olives, onion, and herbs. Cook’s Tip: Into a bowl add 1 small red onion chopped into pieces and softened with 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil and 1 tsp balsamic vinegar. Cover with clingfilm and microwave for 1 or 2 minutes.
Ligurian Ministrone and a slice of focaccia bread.