Making Bread “Under the Fire”
The Italian word focacciameans “under the fire” and it shares many of the same traits as pizza. However, focaccia is usually about 3/4 of an inch thick (versus the standard less than 1/2 inch thick pizza found in most parts of Italy) and is meant to be served at room temperature. Focaccia is also prepared with less toppings than traditional pizza including sea salt, rosemary, red pepper flakes, and other savory herbs.
My mother often waxes philosophical about her favorite meal in Italy as a child; that is to say, still hot focaccia with an ungodly amount of first cold pressed extra virgin olive oil from the family farm. Our family makes both pizza and focaccia in the States and the only real difference between the two types of bread center on 1., the toppings and 2. the amount of olive oil used in the dough recipe. Here’s our standard focaccia recipe (adopted from our pizza dough recipe):
Mix the “wet ingredients”, including the water and olive oil with the dry yeast (you’re looking to dissolve the yeast). Thereafter thoroughly mix the remaining dry ingredients and combine with the wet ingredients. Place the mixture in a Kitchen Aid and mix for 2-3 minutes. Remove the dough and knead with your hands for 4-5 minutes; you’re looking for a fluffy/not too dense dough. Remember to make sure your workspace has plenty of flour so the dough does not stick when kneading. Form the dough into a ball and coat the exterior with a bit of olive oil and place in a large bowl, covering the bowl with a kitchen towel. The dough should sit (I like to place the bowl in my oven, with no heat of course) for 30-45 minutes or until it doubles in size.