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I started by writing this post telling how frustrated I get when I ask for focaccia in a restaurant and they give me thin pizza dough. But - and as I always like to do - I went to check the true origin of the focaccia as well as whether or not there were different versions of it. And here's what I found.
Liguria is considered the birthplace of traditional Italian focaccia. The ligure or genovese focaccia is about 2 cm thick and soft inside, sprinkled with salt and brushed with olive oil. The Recco focaccia (also from Liguria) consists of two thin layers and fresh soft cheese between them. Sardenaira originates in Sanremo and is focaccia with anchovies or sardines.
The Venetian focaccia is sweet, baked for Easter and reminiscent of the traditional Christmas cake panettone. Sugar and butter are used instead of oil and salt.
Barese focaccia, common in Apulia, in southern Italy, is made with durum wheat flour and covered with salt, rosemary, tomatoes or olives. There is also a potato version.
The Tuscan focaccia, schiacciata, which means "crushed". The fingers are used to flatten it; hence the dimples, with a dash of olive oil all over the surface. Traditionally, Tuscan focaccia is medium thick and slightly soft, but crispy on the outside. Salt and rosemary are his usual companions. However, in all of Tuscany you can also find a thin and crunchy version, very thick and very soft.
600g All purpose Flour
450g of warm water
3/4 teaspoon of sea salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon of active dry yeast
To start, mix the flour and yeast in a large bowl. Mix the two ingredients to combine them well, make a hole in the center for the liquids. Put the bowl aside.
Then add the salt to the warm water and let it fully dissolve, then add the water to the bowl with the flour and baking powder. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
Use your hands to stir the mixture. At first, the dough will look a little disheveled, but after a minute or two of mixing, it will come together in what appears to be a very moist dough.
Transfer the dough to another lightly greased bowl. Then, take a quarter of the dough underneath, lift and stretch until the dough resists. Fold it over yourself, then press to hold the dough in place. Repeat the process four times, working around the perimeter of the dough ball, until you complete a complete turn.
Cover the bowl with a damp towel and leave the dough for 20 minutes. Repeat the process of folding and resting three or four more times or until the dough is smooth and silky and resists a little when pressed. This step should take at least an hour to an hour and a half.
Cover the bowl well with cling film and ferment the dough in the refrigerator overnight.
Grease a baking sheet with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and transfer the focaccia dough. Gently press the dough and stretch it in each corner of the pan. If the dough gets too sticky and grabs your hands, just wet your fingers a little.
Then cover the pan with a damp cloth and let it rise for an hour. Fill a small bowl with water. Dip your fingers in the water and start to wave the focaccia batter. Work from side to side and press to the bottom of the pan.
Cover the dough again and let it sit for another hour. At this point, the dough should fill about 1/2 to 2/3 of the baking sheet. There should also be visible bubbles on the surface of the dough and, if you shake the shape, it should sway a little.
Cover the focaccia with fresh rosemary leaves and a generous drizzle of garlic-infused olive oil.
Finish the focaccia with a few pinches of salt and place in a preheated oven at 220ºC for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Transfer the bread to a rack and let it cool for a few minutes before slicing.