This outstanding recipe for focaccia comes from our friend Paola Lovisetti-Scamihorn who is a passionate cook and food writer dedicated to spreading the word about true Italian food culture. In Paola’s Foccacia, she adds two tablespoons of semola to the flour, which makes the crust crunchier. We love this focaccia which uses olives, Bella di Cerignola Olives, of course. Pitted and cut into pieces, these gigantic olives are a perfect match for focaccia. To read her full focaccia post and learn more about Paola visit her blog.
Paola’s Focaccia Notes:
The type of water is very important; the pH should be around 6. I usually use bottled drinking water to avoid having too much chlorine in the dough.
The rising temperature is critical too, therefore place the dough in a warm draft-free place and do not open the oven during baking.
Another important information is to never mix salt and yeast directly, because salt inhibits the action of the yeast.
Focaccia can keep for about two days wrapped in plastic wrap, but I suggest to eat it fresh, just out of the oven, to fully enjoy its fragrance.
500 g (3 cups) flour
350 ml water (1 cup + 5 tablespoons) at 45°C, 110 °F
130 ml (9 tablespoons) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
10 g (2 teaspoons) coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 package (7 g;1 heaping teaspoon) dried yeast or 1 cube (25 g; about 1 ounce) fresh yeast
150 g (1 cup) Green Cerignola olives
1. In a small pitcher dissolve salt in warm water, then add 40 ml (3 tablespoons) olive oil. Mix well then dissolve sugar in it. Sugar is the so called “nourishment” for yeast.
2. Pour the liquid in a large glass bowl and combine with half of the flour. Stir well until you have a smooth batter.
3. Add yeast to the batter stirring well. Remember never add yeast directly to salt because it will prevents the yeast from rising.
4. Add the remaining flour to the batter. Mix well until you have a smooth and even dough, but still a little bit sticky.
5. Remove the dough from the bowl and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface; knead briefly for about 1-2 minutes. Do not add too much flour otherwise the dough will get tough.
6. Lightly oil (with about 3 tablespoons) a 25×35 cm (10×14 in.) baking sheet; place the dough in center of the pan and cover with a cotton towel. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place (about 30°C, 86°F) for about 60-90 minutes until doubled in size.
7. Preheat oven to 220 °C (425°F).
8. Pat the dough into the baking sheet, filling it completely. Brush the dough with oil and sprinkle with some coarse salt. Let it rise for about 30 minutes at 30°C (86°F) until increases its volume.
9. Press some deep holes into the dough with your finger tips, covering the entire surface
10. Drizzle with about 3 tablespoons olive oil (cover all areas of the dough) and wet the top with some water, using a spray-bottle, to keep focaccia soft. Add the olives.
11. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
12. Remove from oven and cool on a grid.