Focaccia is a flat oven-baked bread from Italy, which has a similar style and texture to the pizza. In other places, it is called “pizza Bianca.” It is usually served as a side dish or a sandwich bread. Back in Ancient Rome, a flatbread called panis foccacius was baked on the hearth. The name came from the Latin focus, which means hearth in English, which is a place for baking. The original recipe of Focaccia is thought by some to have originated with the Etruscans. However, in the present time, it is widely associated with Ligurian cuisine.
Outside Liguria, a region of north-western Italy, Focaccia refers to the Genoese variants. In Genoese, the bread is called fugassa, while in Barese, it is called fecazze. It was in 1300 when the first attestation of the word focaccia appeared. Sometimes, it is considered a kind of pizza, but it is left to rise after being flattened, unlike pizza, which is baked immediately. Read on to know more about Focaccia and learn how to make one, too.
Regional Variants of Focaccia
Along the Ligurian coast, Focaccia has countless variations. It has a biscuit-hard version, corn-flour version, oily version, and soft Voltri version. Here are some of the different variants of Focaccia.
- Focaccia Genovese
This is marked by its finger-sized holes on the surface, and it is brushed or sprinkled with coarse salt, olive oil, and sometimes water before its final rise. Focaccia is eaten in Genoa in the morning or during the day. Most of the time, it is dipped in cappuccino or milk at breakfast and eaten wet and warm.
- Focaccia Al Rosmarino
This version is Focaccia topped with rosemary. It can be served as a snack, table bread, or as an antipasto. You can use either dried or fresh rosemary, and it can also be garnished with sprigs of rosemary after it is baked and sprinkled with salt. In New York City, potato rosemary focaccia is usually called potato pizza. This version of focaccia has a moist texture, and it can be sweet or savory.
- Focaccia Dolce
This is a popular variant of focaccia in Northwest Italy. It is sprinkled lightly with sugar and may include honey or raisins.
- Focaccia Veneta
This variation is found in Northeast Italy and is typical for Easter. The bread is baked using eggs, sugar, and butter and is similar to pandoro or panettone, which are both sweet bread in Italy.
How to Make Focaccia at Home
If you are interested in trying some focaccia but can’t travel to Italy, you can instead opt for a homemade Focaccia. To help you, we are going to give you a recipe for making some Rosemary Focaccia bread, which is popular in the United States, too.
- 1 1/3 cup of warm water (about 110°F)
- 2 teaspoons of sugar
- Active dry yeast (2.25 teaspoons or one packet)
- 3 ½ cup of all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup of olive oil
- 2 teaspoons of flaky sea salt
- 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
Here are the steps you can follow to make your very own focaccia bread at home:
- First, you need to proof the yeast in warm water and sugar. You can use a thermometer to measure the temperature of the water and ensure that it is not too cold nor too hot.
- After that, you need to knead the dough. To do this, add in flour, olive oil, and salt. Knead them for 5 minutes using the dough attachment or a stand mixer if you have one. You can also knead the dough by hand.
- After kneading, shape the dough into a ball and put it in a greased mixing bowl. It is time for the first dough rise. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let the dough rest in a warm location for about 45 minutes to an hour, or wait until it has doubled in size.
- Then, for the second dough rise, you need to shape the dough into a large circle or rectangle until it is about ½-inch thick. Cover it again and let it continue to rise for another 20 minutes.
- After letting the dough rise, heat the oven to 400°F. Then, transfer the dough to a large parchment-covered baking sheet. Poke deep dents by using your fingers all the way down the dough until you touch the baking sheet. Do this all over the surface of the dough. After that, sprinkle some fresh rosemary needles evenly, followed by some sea salt.
- Bake the dough for 20 minutes, or until it turns slightly golden and cooked through.
- To serve, remove it from the oven and drizzle the bread with a little more olive oil if you like. Slice the bread and serve it warm to your family or friends.
You can also customize this Focaccia recipe by adding other ingredients, such as parmesan cheese, dried herbs, fresh herbs, and garlic. Focaccia is indeed one of the best bread that you must try when you visit Italy. But in the meantime, you can try making one at home by following the recipe we shared here.