Focaccia, Like Pizza, is a traditional rustic food made with whatever ingredients are at hand (whatever is seasonal is not only most readily available, it is usually the cheapest too). It may be flat or raised. It may have oil and herbs in the dough, or the dough may be plain, with ingredients spread on top. A simple focaccia may have just a splash of olive oil and a sprinkling of fresh rosemary and coarse salt. A popular one from Florence (where focaccia is called schiacciata) is topped with grapes and fennel seeds. Cheeses, meats, fruits, vegetables, oils, and herbs—combine them tastefully, and use a well-made dough, and you have one of the more pleasant baked products to eat out of hand.
Lightly sauté the vegetables first so they won’t scorch during baking. Season the toppings with salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, fresh herbs, and so on, to taste. When putting the topping on the dough, apply it so it covers the dough evenly, but avoid using an excessive amount of topping, which not only weighs the dough down, but also makes it difficult to identify the individual elements of the topping. Cheeses such as Parmesan and mozzarella add great flavor, but again they should be spread thoroughly but not thickly over the dough.
I like the foccacia described here because the dough is light but has a great crust. I like it because it so readily accommodates so many toppings. And I like it because it allows me to use a dough that I have at hand—in this case, ciabatta dough. Although it can be made freeform—the dough stretched flat, toppings put on, and baked on the hearth—my preference is to bake it in a cake pan. I think this not only enhances the flavor of the dough, but it also gives the focaccia a much better keeping quality. It can also be a good method from a selling perspective: It is easy to take a baked focaccia and divide it into 6 or 8 reliably even portions for sale, or simply to put the baked focaccias on cake circles and sell them whole.
|Onions, Thinly Sliced|
|Garlic, Thinly Sliced|
|Eggplant, Thinly Sliced|
|Potatoes, Thinly Sliced|
|Mushrooms, Thinly Sliced|
|Fennel, Thinly Sliced|
|Cured Meats, Thinly Sliced|
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