I first ate foccacia al ramerino when I was a student living in Perugia. We’d stop on our way to Italian class and get a piece of this fragrant foccacia, which was cut into 6-inch squares, and have it for breakfast, licking the olive oil from our fingers as we walked to the Universita. This recipe is an adaptation of that wonderful, savory bread.
The best homemade foccacia is cooked at a high heat on a baking stone, or on tiles. The oven needs to be set a little lower when the foccacia is baked on a metal pan. Because foccacia is generally too big to be handled with a pizza peel, I bake mine on a dark metal baking sheet, sprinkled with cornmeal so that it does not stick. Makes one 10- by 15-inch foccacia
This recipe yields enough dough for one thick foccacia; I often double it and keep one in the fridge to bake a day or two later, or freeze the dough to thaw before using at a later date.
• 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
• 1 1⁄2 cups warm water, 100 to 105 degrees
• 31⁄2 cups unbleached white flour
• 1⁄2 cup whole-wheat flour, optional; use all white flour if desired
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 teaspoon salt
• About 2 tablespoons fresh minced rosemary
1. Dissolve the yeast in about 1⁄4 cup of the warm water and let proof for about 10 minutes.
2. Mix the flours and make a well in them. When the yeast has proofed (yeast begins to foam), pour it into the well with about half of the remaining water. Gradually stir the water and yeast into the well. Add the olive oil and salt, and the rest of the water and stir to blend. Turn the dough out onto a marble or board dusted with flour. Gather the dough and knead it, adding flour if necessary. Sprinkle the chopped rosemary over the dough, fold it over, and knead it into the dough. It should be soft and lively after 7 or 8 minutes.
3. Let the dough double in bulk in a lightly oiled bowl. It is ideal to do this first rise in the refrigerator overnight, but it is not necessary. Punch the dough down and pat it into a rough rectangle with your hands. Let rest, covered with a towel, on a lightly floured surface for 20 minutes, or until the dough is at room temperature if it has been refrigerated.
4. Stretch the dough gently with your hands on a baking pan sprinkled lightly with cornmeal. Let the dough rise in a warm place, covered, for about 15 minutes, before topping or filling and baking.
5. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees, with a baking stone, if you have one, on the bottom rack.
6. Once the foccacia dough has risen on the baking sheet, take your fingers, spreading them wide, and gently press down on the dough to make indentations all over the top of the foccacia.
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• About 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1 medium onion, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
• Coarse sea salt
• 1 generous tablespoon fresh minced rosemary
• About 1⁄2 cup pitted kalamata olives, optional
1. Place garlic in a shallow dish and add about 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Brush the dough with the olive oil and garlic, letting some collect in the depressions. Sprinkle rosemary over the dough, and spread onion over the top of the foccacia.
2. Place the baking sheet directly on the baking stone or on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for about 25 minutes. When the foccacia is done, it will be golden brown on the edges and crisp on the outside. Remove from the oven and brush with the remaining olive oil, especially on the outer crust. Sprinkle generously with salt. Garnish with olives, if desired. Cut and serve warm.
Susan Belsinger is a culinary herbalist who loves playing with food. She delights in kitchen alchemy — the blending of harmonious seasonal foods, herbs and spices. For more information on recipe conversions, visit www.baking911/bread_machines.htm.
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