Foccacia, the Italian bread
Focaccia is a small flat bread that looks like a cushion, which we would associate with fougasse in France. With its golden, crispy crust and soft center, focacca is the ancestral bread of the Italians. It is recognized in particular by the small holes present on the surface of its slightly golden crust. Focaccia pleases us with its smell of olive oil with which it is soaked or in which it can be dipped when tasting. It accompanies many recipes and can be enjoyed with any type of spread (tapenade, anchoïade, etc.).
To prepare it, nothing could be simpler. This bread is cooked with five ingredients: wheat flour, oil, water, salt and yeast. All kneaded by hand.
A recipe with ingredients so accessible that focaccia, from the Parisian name focacius (“hearth bread”), was, in ancient Rome, considered a modest dish.
A recipe that no longer holds any secrets for Toni, whose first pizzes were created in Rome. The chef has now lived in France for fourteen years, and gives us his advice on how to successfully make his foccacia according to the rules of the art.
How to make focaccia like the Italians?
Above all, chef Toni specifies “the good use of raw materials is very important”. We therefore choose a good flour, type 0, for a better voluptuousness of the dough. “We mix the flour with water little by little, we give the flour time to mix well and hydrate. » A fundamental first step, the chef even specifies “it allows the flour to turn the water well and integrate it well. »
To prepare your focaccia, you will need:
500 ml of water
100 ml olive oil
1kg of type 0 flour
15g of malt (optional, available in specialized online grocery stores, malt is mainly used to feed the yeast, like complementary yeast)
20g of salt
13g of yeast
200 ml of basting water (to be added during kneading)
We then continue with two key stages: “the resting time and the reinforcing folds which bring all the lightness to the focaccia”.
“You must prepare the focaccia the day before for the next day, at least 24 hours in advance”
If a successful focaccia is prepared the day before, it means that several steps are necessary before putting it in the oven. Once all the ingredients have been mixed for 10 minutes in the mixer, we arrive at the proofing stage, during which the dough is allowed to rise for 1 hour.
The rest times don’t end there, since once this hour is up, you still have to shape the dough. We then make a “reinforcement fold”, which means working the dough by folding it on itself.
15 minutes of rest are required, then the dough is stretched for the first time. 1 hour of rest is then necessary, before a second stretch, followed by 1 hour of rest.
Between the first time following the pointing stage and those which punctuate the stretching of the dough, allow a total rest time of 3 hours and 15 minutes at room temperature, then overnight in the refrigerator. “The next day, take it out 8 hours before you want to cook it and that’s it.”
During these 8 hours, the chef recommends placing the dough directly on a baking sheet and letting it rest at room temperature. “You do the final folding and portion it according to the number of focaccias desired.”
Apply light pressure with your fingers on the top of the dough to form a few hollows, pour olive oil over the dough and put it in the oven.
The chef enlightens us on the cooking time, which, even if it might tempt more than one person, is not done visually. For household ovens, allow between 40 to 45 minutes, at 180° or 190°C.
A preparation that requires time, but it is worth it. With rest, the dough rises, becomes more elastic and enhances all its flavors. A phenomenon which can be explained by gluten, which develops the gases necessary for the yeast to make the dough rise. We say that it “grows”.
Serve focaccia, like the Italians
Focaccia, hot or warm?
“In Italy, focaccia is eaten warm, at room temperature. »
Real Italian focaccia, with or without toppings?
You might think that topping a focaccia would be like putting pineapple on a pizza. However, there is no real “real focaccia”, only derivatives. Chef Toni informs us, “each region has its own focaccia”. Among those he presents to us, three major variations*.
For a natural focaccia, head to northern Italy in the Genoa region, with Genovese focaccia.
For tomato and oregano focaccia, head south to Puglia with Barese focaccia.
Finally, it is in central Italy that you will find beautiful onion focaccias.
A real trip through Italy!
Accompany your focaccia
To dip in olive oil, spread with tomato confit or with “a little speck or Parma ham”, or even with cheese, the key to sublimating a focaccia according to chef Toni, is to “bring this fatty side which gives comfort”.
From now on, you will know how to handle the art of focaccia to perfection.
*Products to be found at Eataly (https://eataly.fr/)
37 Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie