One of my most indelible food memories involved a slice of focaccia while in Italy a couple of years back. The Cinque Terre along the Ligurian coast of Italy is not only postcard-picturesque, but also full of focaccerias, tiny little bakeries that sell nothing but different varieties of focaccia. Seriously. While touring one of the village,s I snuck off from our group and popped into a focacceria and for a measly little Euro I was rewarded with a piece of heaven.Airy and spongy on the interior, the exterior was crisp and well seasoned with salt. Rich olive oil was generously drizzled over the warm bread leaving lickable trails of its goodness down my fingers. My family found me before I had a chance to finish the focaccia on my own and began stealing fingerfuls. We almost broke into a brawl over a piece of bread there in that sleepy little Italian village before we had to run back to our group. They purchased their own pieces of bread at other focaccerias but nothing compared to that first bite.
Trying to recreate this experience at home would be an exercise in futility because as good as the focaccia was, it was the sum of the experience that holds such a special place in my memory. But I have tried to make focaccia before with ho hum results, until now.
I came across this recipe for No Fuss Focaccia on King Arthur Flour and am in love. With the technique and the results. Truly, no fuss. Truly, delicious. The exterior cracks as you bit into it and then your teeth sink into the airy interior. My husband didn't share my enthusiasm as I held a piece of the bread up to him squealing about how holey the interior was. I know my fellow bakers understand those little joys in the kitchen.
I kept it simple this time and spread good olive oil, from Italy of course, across the top and then sprinkled flaked salt on half and dried herbs on the other half. I can't wait to make this again with some pesto, and then with some sun-dried tomatoes, maybe a little bit of cheese, the possibilities are endless... What food memories have you tried to recreate?
No Fuss Focaccia
King Arthur Flour
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 tablespoons olive oil (and more for drizzling)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1) Lightly grease 9" x 13" pan, drizzle 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil in the bottom.
2) Combine all of the ingredients, and beat at high speed with an electric mixer for 60 seconds.
3) Scoop the sticky batter into the prepared pan, cover the pan, and let it rise at room temperature for 60 minutes, or until it becomes puffy.
4) While the dough is rising, preheat oven to 375°.
5) Gently poke the dough all over with your index finger.
6) Drizzle it lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with desired seasonings.
7) Bake the bread until its golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes.
8) Remove from the oven, wait 5 minutes, then turn it out of the pan onto a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.