[1] Blueberry focaccia. The recipe is below (photo © King Arthur Flour).


[2] Focaccia with kalamata olives. Here’s the recipe (photo © DeLallo).


[3] Earlier recipes had simple toppings: herbs like rosemary or sage, salt and olive oil. Here’s the recipe from (photo © King Arthur Flour).


[4] Focaccia can be baked in a round or rectangular pan. Here’s a recipe for gluten-free focaccia (photo © King Arthur Flour).


[5] Here’s what a creative baker does with plain focaccia. Here’s the recipe from Sugar Geek Show (photos #5 and #6 © Sugar Geek Show).


[6] Edible art from Sugar Geek Show.


[7] Double zero flour, called doppio zero in Italian, is the finest texture. You can order it from DeLallo (photo © DeLallo).

 

Focaccia (foe-KAH-cha) is an Italian yeast bread, baked in a flat or round pan. It is one of the most popular breads in Italy.

A bit of history: In the old days before the availability of baking pans, yeast-risen breads and cakes were patted into rounds and baked on hearthstones or griddles. By the 17th century, hoops made of metal or wood were placed on flat pans to shape breads and cakes.

In the 17th century, cookware developed so that the European kitchen contained a number of skillets, baking pans, a kettle and several pots, along with a variety of pot hooks to hold the cookware over the fire, and trivets to place the hot cookware when removed from the fire.
 
 
AUTHENTIC FOCACCIA

Focaccia is a cousin to pizza. In Italy it is eaten as a snack, but not used as a sandwich bread, as is often done in the U.S.

Focaccia—plain or with very light toppings—is some 2000 years older than pizza. The latter has a heavy sauce and robust toppings.

The history of focaccia is below. Here’s the history of pizza.

Focaccia Vs. Pizza: The Difference

Focaccia made with the same ingredients as pizza crust, including finely-ground 00 flour (photo #7), yeast and olive oil.

  • The main difference between focaccia dough and pizza dough is that pizza dough uses very little leavening (yeast).
  • As a result, pizza has a thin, flat and flexible crust, while the higher amount of leavening in focaccia causes the dough to rise significantly higher.
  • Focaccia toppings are much lighter. The basic topping is simply olive oil and coarse sea salt; herbs and garlic are a popular addition (rosemary is a classic, followed by sage).
  • Some cooks add caramelized onions, olives, parmesan or other cheese, pancetta or prosciutto, pesto, sesame seeds and/or tomatoes.
  • Sweet toppings are also used in Italy, in recipes containing anise, eggs, honey, lemon or orange peel, raisins and sugar.
  •  
    Authentic focaccia can be served:

  • With more substantial toppings for lunch (cheese, prosciutto, tomatoes). In Italy, is can be served with cooked vegetables or a salad.
  • As a table bread. If you want to use it as a sandwich bread, no Focaccia Police will knock at your door.
  • With antipasto.
  • As a cocktail nibble or a munchie with a midday glass of wine (cut the focaccia into smaller squares or fingers for cocktail nibbles)
  •  
    Fruit focaccia, the recipe below, is an evolution of authentic focaccia. It’s a treat for snacking or for brunch.

     
    HEATING FOCACCIA

    Focaccia should be served warm. To reheat it, use the oven.

    Don’t microwave it, because as the focaccia cools it will become very hard.

    You can freeze focaccia, ideally cut into slices; then thaw it on the counter. Reheat it on a baking sheet in a preheated 375°F oven, until it is hot and crispy.
     
     
    RECIPE: BLUEBERRY FOCACCIA

    While focaccia was a savory bread for thousands of years, cooks have been more recently turning it into a fruit bread or snack, like this recipe.

    See the photos for links to savory focaccia recipes.

    Either savory or sweet, enjoy fruit focaccia as a side of bread with soup or salad, with dinner or a fresh cheese or soft cheese (we like it with goat cheese or mascarpone); or as a snack with iced tea or wine.

    This easy recipe (photo #1), which we share during National Blueberry Month, can be made anytime. Have it for weekend brunch with a side of mascarpone cheese.

    You can substitute other berries, even cherries.

    Ingredients

    For The Dough

  • 1-1/3 cups warm water (110°F)
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons (1 package) active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3-1/2 cups Italian Type 00 Flour*, divided, plus additional for hands
  •  
    For The Topping

  • 1 tablespoon DeLallo Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries (or frozen and thawed)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar†
  • Honey, for drizzling
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the warm water in a large mixer bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top. Add the olive oil and mix until incorporated.

    2. MIX in the salt and 2 cups of the flour on a low speed, until combined. Switch out the flat beater on the mixer for a dough hook, and add remaining 1-1/2 cups flour. Knead on low speed for 3 minutes, until smooth.

    3. TURN the dough out into a large bowl coated with nonstick spray. Cover with plastic and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled, about 90 minutes.

    4. LINE a large rimmed baking sheet or half-sheet pan (18″ x 13″ half-sheet pan) lined with parchment. Brush the parchment with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and scrape the dough out onto the parchment.

    5. FLOUR your hands generously and pat out the dough into an even rectangle. Let it rise until puffed, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F.

    6. BRUSH the dough with olive oil. Press the top of the dough all over with your fingertips or an implement, to create small dimples. Gently press the blueberries into the dimples and elsewhere in the dough. Sprinkle the dough evenly with the sugar and thyme. Allow to rest for 15 minutes.

    7. BAKE the focaccia for 35 minutes, until golden brown. Let it cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve topped with turbinado sugar and a drizzle of honey.
     

    FOCACCIA HISTORY

    Focaccia, topped with olive oil and spices, has been around since antiquity. As previously noted, it is some 2,000 years older than its “descendant,” modern pizza [source].

    Many historians place it well before the Roman Empire was formed (27 B.C.E.), created either by the Etruscans of what is now North Central Italy, or by the Ancient Greeks.

    By the second century B.C.E. (also before the Roman Empire), focaccia also was made by the Carthaginians and Phoenicians, with grains such as barley, millet and rye [source].

    The grain may now be wheat, but the basic recipe remains unchanged from those times, relying on wild yeast to rise.

    Packaged yeast was not introduced until 1878. The original focaccia, like other breads and cakes prior to then,
    Bakers would puncture the bread with a knife to stop air bubbles from forming on the surface, and “dotted” the bread with their fingers to create wells/dimples that reduce the air in the dough and prevent the bread from rising too quickly.

    To preserve moisture, olive oil was spread over the dough prior to rising and baking.

    The name focaccia is derived from the Latin panis focacius, which translates to fireplace bread or center/focus bread.

     
    Since the focus of the family home was the fireplace, and all bread was baked in the fireplace, it may have applied to other breads as well.

  • The Romans carried the recipe with them throughout their empire.
  • In medieval times, focaccia was used by the Roman Catholic Church during religious festivals, weddings and funerals [source].
  • Focaccia came to the U.S. in the 20th century with Italian immigrants.
  • Italian restaurants and bakeries introduced non-Italians to numerous foods, including breads and breadsticks‡.
  •  
    Other countries have adopted the delicious bread.

  • In the Burgundy region of France, focaccia is called foisse or fouaisse.
  • In other areas of France it is known as fougasse.
  • In Argentina, it’s fugazza.
  • In Spain it’s hogaza.
  • There are even name variations in Italy, such as fugassa in the region of Liguria.
  • ________________

    *Type 00 Flour—double zero in English and doppio zero in Italian—is made in Italy with the highest quality wheat, that is specially milled and sifted into an ultra-fine powderlike texture. It is the flour used for pizza crusts and is also used for bread, crostata, desserts, focaccia and pasta. The flour grading system includes 2, 1, 0 and 00. The lower the number, the more finely ground the flour, and the more bran and germ that have been removed.

    †Turbinado is raw sugar that retains some light molasses flavor. Sugar In The Raw is a brand of turbinado sugar. Turbinado has slightly finer crystals and is less sticky than demerara sugar, although it is still coarser than conventional white granulated sugar. Muscovado, another raw sugar, is very moist texture with a strong molasses flavor. See the different types of sugar in our Sugar & Syrup Glossary.

    ‡Historians believe that breadsticks were first created in 1643 in Piedmont, substantiated by the writing of an abbot who described a long-shaped and “bone-thin” bread being made in a town outside of Turin. Some credit a specific Torinese baker, Antonio Brunero.
    ________________
     
      


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