I know, I know, the secret ingredient won’t be secret for very long since this is a recipe blog and I am going to have to give you ALL the ingredients to make this AMAZING focaccia.
Oh well, I guess I won’t have many secret family recipes to pass to my children and grandchildren, but the idea that they will be able to read this blog makes me happy, even if they won’t be alone reading it… Won’t they be alone? Is anybody reading me? Is there anybody out there? :P Your comments make me happy, leave me some!!
Focaccia is a typical italian bread, it is baked in a baking dish or on a flat pizza pan. It is usually quite thick and it is best eaten dipped in some good olive oil or halved and stuffed with prosciutto and cheese -fontina sounds good to me :P
Focaccia can be plain or have some sort of topping, often onions, or just herbs. There are many, MANY, kind of focaccia recipes out there, the dough can be of many kinds and the toppings can vary a lot. But there are a few things all focaccia have in common: they should be flat, thick, very soft and taste delicious :D
I have a few favorite focaccia recipes but this one is quite amazing. It is a plain focaccia so it fits perfectly with whatever you want to eat it with, and it is so soft, and so tasty even though it is plain. The first time I made it Max and I were speechless, we both agreed this was THE BEST FOCACCIA I ever baked!
I have been lingering here, I don’t know if I want to give away the secret ingredient… so let me tell you a story about secret ingredients. One day a friend from Singapore invited us for dinner, he said “I am going to cook a very special recipe, a duck with a secret ingredient”. We arrived for dinner early, to have time to go pick up something for to-go in case the secret ingredient was some terrifying Asian thing like bugs or something like that :P To our surprise the secret ingredient was a lot less scary than we thought: plain American coke! So we went from scared to very suspicious, could this duck sauteed with coke be good??? Well, it was good! In life you never know, sometimes a can of coke can make a wonderful dinner and some other times a scoop of instant mashed potatoes can make a wonderful Italian focaccia!
There you go, I said (wrote) it. I gave up my secret ingredient a nice scoop, or rather one generous cup of instant mashed potatoes. Yep the store bought potato flakes to which you add milk and obtain, magically, mashed potatoes! And now you think I am crazy, but I told you the story of the duck, it was good I swear, and the focaccia is, ohhh so focaccia!!!
With the following ingredients you will get two 13″x9″ (25×25 cm) focacce (plural of focaccia).
- 1 cup + 5 tbs lukewarm water (310 ml)
- 1 pkg dry yeast
- 1 generous cup instant mashed potatoes
- 3/4 cup + 3 tbs warm milk (200 ml)
- 4 1/2 cup bread flour (675 gr)
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 4 tbs olive oil + more for baking
- few sprigs of fresh rosemary for topping
- 1 tbs coarse salt for topping
Hydrate the yeast in the lukewarm water, stirring until it is completely dissolved.
Hydrate the instant mashed potatoes with the milk.
Now mix all the ingredients in a large bowl: flour, sugar, salt, hydrated mashed potatoes, water with the dissolved yeast and olive oil. And knead for 10 minutes. The mixture will NOT be very wet and sticky but don’t worry, that is how it is supposed to be. If you are lucky enough to have a stand mixer save yourself the workout and feel free to use it :P Picture 1 shows the dough before rising.
Spray some oil in a large bowl, toss the kneaded dough in, spray some more oil over it, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 2 hours in a warm place. The oven with the light on should work.
After 2 hours the dough should look like picture 2 and 3, it filled the bowl! Take the dough out of the bowl, punch it down, quite literally, I love kneading bread when I am stressed and/or angry. And knead it for 1 more minute, am I not being nice here? Just one minute :) Bring back to the bowl and let rest for 2 more hours.
After the additional 2 hours, 4 in total so far, take your dough out, punch it down (fun fun!) and divide it in half. Generously oil 2 pans and toss half the dough on each one. Press the dough down with well oiled hands until it has homogeneously filled the pan. Picture 4 shows the focaccia at the next step, with the topping, but it gives you the idea of how the dough should fill the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 more hour.
Turn on the oven at 425°F (220°C).
We are almost done: 5 hours of rising so far, and if you have ever made bread at home you know that the more it rises the more the flavor develops. Wash and chop the rosemary (or use dry rosemary). Trying to be gentle, to avoid to “deflate” the dough, spread the rosemary and the coarse salt over the 2 focaccia and spread some more olive oil (picture 3, 4). Bake for 30 minutes, turning the temperature down to 400°F (200°C) as soon as you toss the focaccia in the oven and close the door.
Take it out of the oven and EAT it!! It will be fantastic! It tastes great hot, warm or cold. I usually cut it in small portions and I freeze it in zip-locks. When I want to enjoy some I thaw it at room temperature, or in the microwave for 20 seconds, then I warm it up in a toaster oven.
Make a panini with it or dip it in olive oil. Finally, I know, it takes forever to make it, but the actual work time is only about 30 minutes, or even less, plus the given ingredients make two very nice focaccia so it will last you for a while… OK, I am lying here, even though the ingredients yield quite a lot of focaccia it will be gone in a twinkling :P But even it is quite a hassle to make it I bet once you try, you will be making this over and over again!