I’m not a big fan of focaccia. I’ve had too many restaurant versions that were dry little squares, almost cakelike, saved only by a seasoned olive oil for dipping. But this focaccia, made from a recipe in Baking With Julia, was just fine with me. Like a cross between a very good bread and a very good pizza, it was crispy, chewy, and full of texture.
I want to include a few comments on the process. While straightforward and simple, it does require a 24-hour rest in the refrigerator after a second rise, so if you’re planning to make it, it’s best to plan ahead. The recipe makes three 10-inch square focaccia (what’s the plural?). I baked two after the 24 hours of chilling, and I baked the third the following day, so that one had a 48-hour rest. The first two baked up beautifully, with lots of irregular hole structure. The one that had the longer rest didn’t rise as much and was a little denser, but still very good. I used chopped fresh rosemary and flaked salt to top the first two.
The recipe uses two Tablespoons of yeast for the three focaccia. That seems like a lot. It seems like cheating. And with the 24-hour rest, I would think that a smaller amount of yeast would have time to create plenty of air bubbles.
On the third day, I was making a Middle Eastern inspired dish for dinner (roasted butternut squash & red onion with tahini & za’atar) from the wonderful cookbook Jerusalem. I decided to top the focaccia with thyme, sesame seeds, and flaked salt to complement the Middle Eastern flavors.
As a final note, the word focaccia comes from the Latin focus which means hearth. If you want to try this recipe you can find it on pages 143-145 of Baking With Julia, or on Sharmina’s blog Wandering Through…