Focaccia di Recco All’olio

Recco’s Olive Oil Focaccia

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Serves

    4

Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

Focaccia is widely associated with Ligurian cuisine and this focaccia from Recco is legendary. The story goes that during the 16th and 17th centuries, when Recco was an easy target for bandit attacks, men stayed behind to defend their lands while women left for the hinterland with the children and elders, taking with them little more than wheat, oil and salt. Once they felt safe, they kneaded the wheat with the stream water and bartered salt and oil for some cheese. Elders, who used to gather the wood and light up the fires, started leaning some slate over the burning coals to cook the mixture, and the focaccia was born. There are many versions of this famous bread in Recco and the fourth Sunday in May is the annual Recco Focaccia Festival.

Ingredients

  • 350 ml/12 fl oz/ cups warm water
  • 40 g/ oz fresh/compressed yeast
  • 500 g/ lb/5 cups unbleached strong white bread flour
  • 30 ml/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 10 g/¼ oz cooking salt
  • 25 g/1 oz coarse salt

Method

  1. Pour half the water into a small bowl and stir in the yeast. Leave in a warm place for 15 minutes, or until frothy.
  2. Put the flour into a large bowl and add the olive oil and cooking salt. Pour in the yeast mixture and remaining water, and stir together well.

  3. Knead the dough for 20 minutes, or until soft and stretchy. The dough should be quite wet, but it shouldn’t feel sticky. Put the dough in a large, well- oiled bowl, cover loosely with clear film or plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour.

  4. Knock back or punch down the dough. Brush the base of a 40 x 60 cm/16 x 24 in tin or pan generously with olive oil and then flatten the dough out over the base to cover it completely.

  5. Using your fingers, splash the surface of the dough with some water (or spray using an atomiser), then sprinkle over some coarse salt and drizzle with lots of olive oil (be generous with the oil). Using your fingertips, make lots of deep dimples all over the surface of the dough.

  6. Leave the dough to rise in a warm, draught-free place for about 2 hours, or until it has doubled in volume. After 1¾ hours, preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6.
  7. Bake the focaccia for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, during which time it will absorb all the olive oil on the surface. Drizzle over a little more olive oil, then bake for a further 20-25 minutes, or until the focaccia is golden in colour.
  8. Immediately remove from the tin and allow it to cool slightly on a wire rack. Serve while still warm.

Variations

  • For an onion focaccia, finely chop ½ red onion and add the onion to the mixture at step 2. Very finely slice the remaining onion and sprinkle over the top of the focaccia during the last 10-15 minutes of cooking time.
  • For a rosemary focaccia, sprinkle a few sprigs of fresh rosemary over the top of the focaccia when you add the coarse salt and oil.
  • For the classic focaccia al formaggio, divide the dough in half and spread the first half over the base of the tin. Cover with stracchino or crescenza cheese - a sour, stretched-curd cheese - then cover with the second sheet of dough, rolled out to fit over the first. Finish off as above.