Recipe: Focus for All

Chef Lisa Lavagetto offers us her recipe for focaccia that reads easy enough that even I might try to make it. My very favorite focaccias are at Pagliacci’s in Victoria, British Columbia, and at Angelo’s meats in Petaluma. But I will make this one. We are holding another focaccia recipe from Lavagetto, the former manager of Ramekins Culinary School, for a later date. – Kathleen Thompson Hill

If you have ever had focaccia right out of the oven, you know what amazing is.

I had my first focaccia in New York when I was newly engaged and visiting my husband’s family. This is an Italian flatbread and has been around for centuries. You can eat it for breakfast, as part of a sandwich, or as an accompaniment to any meal.

What makes it such unique bread is the amount of olive oil it contains.

The olive oil gives it that delicious rich flavor. Olive oil is also used on top of the bread to maintain its moisture. Focaccia is made all over the Mediterranean and Middle East but the most popular recipe is from Italy.

The name focaccia comes from the Roman “panis focacius” which means “hearth bread.” The Romans used rough flour, olive oil, water and a small amount of yeast. It was predominantly used as a dipping bread. Today it has so many versions and uses both sweet and savory.

The sweet versions can contain honey, raisins, grapes and different fruits. The savory version will use mushrooms olives, and tomatoes.

Many herbs can be used on top the most common being rosemary. But sage is also popular.

Give it a try. I guarantee you will love the result. Also experiment with different toppings. Just wait until you smell the bread coming out of the oven!

Focaccia with Roasted Garlic and Rosemary

Ingredients

1 tablespoon of active dry yeast

2-¼ cups of warm water (roughly 105˚)

2 tablespoons of fennel seeds soaked in ¼ cup of warm water

½ cup olive oil, plus a bit more

4 ½ cups of all purpose flour

2 teaspoons of kosher salt

¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons of rosemary leaves, chopped

1 head of garlic, roasted

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350˚

In a medium bowl, stir yeast into the warm water and let stand for 10 minutes or until it starts to foam.

Add ¼ cup of the olive oil and the fennel seeds along with their liquid.

Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Slowly add the liquids to the dry ingredients and mix until well incorporated. If using the stand mixer use the dough hook and a medium setting for incorporating. Mix until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.

Gently knead until smooth.

Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat with oil.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise for an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

Brush a sheet pan with olive oil and gently press the dough on the pan stretching it as you press it. Using your fingertips, dimple the top and continue stretching, covering the pan as much as possible. Cover pan with a towel and allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Drizzle the dough generously with about ¼ cup olive oil and dimple the dough again and sprinkle with sea salt.

Place in the middle of the oven and bake until lightly golden roughly 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and top with chopped roasted garlic and continue to bake another 5 minutes and remove from oven. Cool briefly and cut into serving size squares.

The recipe makes on 12-by-17 focaccia.

Cook’s note: For even better flavor, after the first rise, place into the refrigerator overnight. The dough will develop even more flavor if you retard the fermentation by waiting overnight. Just bring it out of the refrigerator, a couple of hours before shaping it into the sheet pan.

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