This versatile, flat, oven-baked Italian bread is related to pizza. Popular in Italy, focaccia usually is seasoned with olive oil and herbs; topped with onion, cheese and meat; or flavored with vegetables. A common practice is to dot the bread with a finger or a utensil handle, which preserves moisture in the bread and creates small reservoirs that capture the olive oil that’s spread over the dough.
• 2½ teaspoons active dry yeast
• 2½ cups water
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• About 7 cups all-purpose flour
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• Additional olive oil and salt
1. Mix all ingredients (except additional olive oil and salt) in a stand mixer for 5 to 6 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic. Let dough rise for 1½ hours.
2. Press dough into an oiled pan and let rise for 30 minutes. Dimple the dough with your fingers. Spread additional olive oil on top of dough. Sprinkle with additional salt and let rise for 1½ hours.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake focaccia for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool and cut into small squares or triangles.
4. Top with your favorite veggies, cheeses or meats–try fresh rosemary, chopped tomatoes and caramelized onions, shown in the photo at left.
Allison Martin is associate editor of The Herb Companion. She enjoyed tasting her way through this story.
For the main article, An Herbal Feast for the Holiday Season,click here.