A Focaccia Primer

Although it’s found all around Italy, focaccia has always been popular – especially by the sea. The common theory is that the salty sea air inhibits the yeast activity causing the fermenting dough to slow down – which develops the flavor considerably.

Derived from the Latin, “focus” or “hearth”, focaccia was generally baked at home in the families central hearth on flat stones. Strikingly similar to pizza they both have a long shared history. Which begs the question – which came first? According to some culinary eggheads Focaccia appeared at least 2000 years before the pizza. The main differences between the two might seem slight but they differentiate the two greatly. First focaccia dough contains olive oil and depending on the region it can be slight to dripping where true pizza dough contains none.

Secondly focaccia dough is considerably thicker than pizza dough primarily do to its leavening. Focaccia utilizes more yeast than pizza which also allows it to absorb all of the olive oil. In some regions focaccia is referred to as “olive oil bread” containing fewer toppings than pizza and often offered bare – again that distinction is influenced regionally.

The dimpled surface of focaccia is another major distinction – the dimples collect the olive oil which contribute greatly to the flavor and texture.

I enjoy focaccia warm from the oven festooned with herbs, onions and assorted seasonings – leaving the heavier toppings for bruschetta, pizzas and such. It’s especially good as a partner with a nice homemade soup. Notice I said partner rather than side. My reasoning is that a well made focaccia stands on its own and is a worthy meal in itself.

I recently put together a “ladies lunch” for my Dana and her “Pure Barre” exercise friends. Steaming cups of my grilled tomato soup accompanied thick wedges of my warmed focaccia finished with a drizzle of roasted garlic infused olive oil.



I found an interesting focaccia recipe here on our culinary archives, the “Chipotle Focaccia with Garlic-Onion Topping” that looks absolutely delicious and is packed with flavor, it would go well with any soup on hand and another to show you what you can do with it!

How do you all enjoy your focaccia? Plain with a simple dusting of olive oil and salt or something more elaborate? Let me know your thoughts!


Chipotle Focaccia with Garlic-Onion Topping

16 ServingsPrep: 1-1/4 hours + rising Bake: 20 min.

1 cup water (70° to 80°)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
1-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

6 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 teaspoon plus 7 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 large onions, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 tablespoons chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt

In bread machine pan, place the first six ingredients in order
suggested by manufacturer. Select dough setting (check dough after 5
minutes of mixing; add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or flour if

When cycle is completed, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface.
Punch down dough; cover and let rest for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, place garlic in a small microwave-safe bowl. Drizzle with
1/4 teaspoon oil. Microwave on high for 20-60 seconds or until
softened. Mash the garlic. Roll dough into a 12-in. x 10-in. rectangle. Transfer to a well-greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise in a warm place until slightly risen, about 20 minutes.

With fingertips, make several dimples over top of dough. Brush dough
with 1 tablespoon oil. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until
lightly browned.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute onions in remaining oil until
tender. Add the chipotle peppers, salt and mashed garlic; saute 2-3
minutes longer. Sprinkle over dough.

Bake 10-15 minutes longer or until golden brown. Cut into squares;
serve warm.

Yield: 16 servings.



Apple ‘n’ Prosciutto Sandwiches

8 ServingsPrep/Total Time: 20 min.

1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
1 loaf (12 ounces) focaccia bread
8 thin slices prosciutto
1 medium apple, sliced
6 ounces Brie cheese, rind removed and sliced

In a blender, combine the oil, walnuts, cheese and rosemary; cover
and process until blended and nuts are finely chopped. With a bread
knife, split focaccia into two horizontal layers. Spread rosemary
mixture over cut sides of bread.

On bottom of bread, layer the prosciutto, apple and Brie; replace
bread top. Cut into quarters.

Cook on an indoor grill for 2-3 minutes or until bread is browned and
cheese is melted. To serve, cut each wedge in half. Yield: 8

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