There are so many things to love about Italian culture -- their melodic language, their wonderful architecture, but here at BigOven, we love the passion and zeal for life that permeates Italian cookery. Most of all, we love traditional Italian focaccia. To spread the love from our kitchen to yours, we wanted to share our best tips on making this deceptively simple flatbread by hand.
Let's get started...
First things first, the key to great focaccia starts with the treatment of the dough. So, here's what you need to know:
1. Extend the rise time by placing it in the fridge longer or, better yet, overnight. This is where the flavor really develops and deepens. With more fermentation, you not only get a more complex and robust taste, but you also develop a fluffier and more exquisite texture. We’ve pushed our proofs to upwards of 24-36 hours before and the flavor was not to be believed.
2. Au natural is the best way to go to get a rise out of your focaccia. Sure, you can use just bread flour and water, but you can expedite the process slightly by using a sourdough starter. For folks with gluten sensitivities, especially, the use of natural risers can aid digestion and increase nutrient absorption.
3. Now it’s time to make an impression, literally! Once you’ve shaped and placed the dough in a half-sheet pan glistening with extra-virgin olive oil, it’s time to squish and pinch those dimples! With fingers spread wide, let your inner 5-year-old loose and leave gleeful dimpled impressions in the surface of the dough where perfect pools of olive oil will form.
4. If you want to elevate the look of basic focaccia, gather up all the fresh herbs and vegetables you may have languishing in your crisper, pop open a jar of Kalamata olives, perhaps, also, a bag of pine nuts -- whatever you fancy, and, while summoning as muses the great Italian masters or, in our case, Vincent Van Dough, decorate the surface of your dough with edible art. Here are a few of our favorite edible elements :
Thyme – plants, leaves, tiny plants
Basil – leaves
Sage – leaves
Parsley – plants, leaves
Red onions – sliced thinly to resemble flowers
Green onions – stems or grass
Chives – stems or grass
Get fancy by adding color, texture, and flair.
Tomatoes – flowers or berries on a thyme vine
Mini sweet peppers – petals of sunflowers or poppies
Capers – Rocks, the center of flowers
Olives – rocks or the center of flowers
You simply cannot go wrong here. Let color and flavor collide and feast with both your eyes and your stomach.
Our No-Knead Herb Focaccia is impossibly easy. And impossibly delicious. It'll leave you scratching your head and wondering how so few ingredients and such little effort can produce something so exquisitely satisfying. But, don't take our word for it -- bake some up tonight.