The Italians gave the world some of its favorite foods like Pizza, pasta as well as phenomenal bread such as the famous Focaccia and Ciabatta.
Making that said heavenly Focaccia is easier said than done. Many try to reach the perfect flavor and texture of their Focaccia without success.
Bakers usually find themselves full of questions like why is my focaccia dense and flat? why is my focaccia dough so sticky/ dough or not rising? hard and chewy? stale soon after baking? All good questions.
To help you achieve the perfect Foccacia and answer these questions we have collaborated with the Chef, Baker, and owner of the Toscana Saporita Cooking School, Alessio John Matteo Da Prato,
This cooking school has made it to our Best bread baking workshop in the world list.
This post-Alessio will bring you the secrets to perfect focaccia baking straight from Toscana Italy. It doesn’t get any closer to home than this!
Baker Alessio John Matteo Da Prato:
The Secret To The Perfect Focaccia
If there is a basket of bread at the table that has both a loaf of bread and focaccia, the focaccia is the first to get assaulted.
Focaccia is the king of Italian bread. It is a salty, olive oil-soaked flatbread that is both chewy and crisp and full of personality. I have been making bread and focaccia for years, and people always ask me why their focaccia is always too dense or why it didn’t rise to name a few.
In this post, I will answer questions I got asked over the years and will give you the secret of making the perfect focaccia: you just have to follow a few simple tips, that will ensure your focaccia to be moist, light and crispy.
10 Tips For Making The Best Focaccia
1.Starting With The Best Flour
Using locally sourced, small production, organic flours that contain both wheat germ and bran in the flour. In Italy, we have a great supplier such as Mulino Marino (www.mulinomarino.it) that ensures the best structure, nutrients, and flavor and the flour is fresh.
2. Using Flour Blends For Your Foccacia
Adding small percentages of other flours such as farro, Kamut and Enkir to the mix creates a more interesting flavor profile for focaccias.
- Farro Flour is a and ancient grain which is another species of wheat. It is organic and its flavor is quite distinct and is a perfect match.
- Kamut Flour is also an ancient grain and another species of wheat. Its origins are oriental. This flour is widely used in Europe for bread baking. This flour has a more nutty flavor.
- Enkir Flour is a very ancient cereal grain some say the oldest. This flour also has a nutty flavor and is well known in Italy. It is also important to know that this flour is low in gluten and high in protein.
3. Herbs & Spice To Make It Nice
Flavoring your dough with spices or herbs elevates the taste of the focaccia. Try adding turmeric or finely chopped rosemary to add depths of flavor.
4. Choosing The Right Leaven For Your Focaccia
Choose your yeast wisely. Using a sourdough starter gives the focaccia stronger structure and more flavor while using brewers yeast makes the focaccia lighter and more mild in flavor.
5. Use Highly Hydrated Dough
Use a minimum of 70 percent hydration in your dough allowing better flavor and bigger crumb that will remain moist for days. Higher hydration also prevents the focaccia from being too dry.
6. Long Fermentation For Full Body Flavor
Resting your dough for 48 hours after the initial needing allows the focaccia to develop in flavor and ferments the sugars in the dough allowing the bread to be lighter and more digestible.
7. Shaping Your Focaccia
Shaping the dough based on the style of focaccia you choose. If you choose to bake the focaccia directly in a pizza oven or baking stone directly, simply shape the dough similarly to a pizza using some cornmeal for extra flavor and crunch.
If you choose to bake your focaccia in a tray, first use a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil in the tray and press the dough directly in the oiled tray using your fingers to create dimples. Allowing the dough to proof at this stage allows the focaccia to rise properly and create an airy light texture.
8. Brining and Salting Your Focaccia
Brining and salting your focaccia for the best flavor. To make plain focaccia, add salt, water, and oil to create a salty brine and brush liberally over the dough before baking. Another option is to brush with extra virgin olive oil and Maldon sea salt. After baking brush one more time with more extra virgin olive oil.
9. Toppings For Your Focaccia
Choosing the type of focaccia topping can greatly enhance your focaccia flavor. Some typical favorites include rosemary, olives and lemon zest or thinly sliced potatoes, onions, herbs, and salt. Always drizzle fresh extra virgin olive oil after baking.
10. Choosing Your Oven
Choosing your oven. The best focaccias come from baking in a wood-burning oven, creates a better flavor from the wood and a crunchier exterior.
Focaccia, if done right, is a delight to your palate. Whether it is dipped in fine olive oil and balsamic vinegar or used as a base for olive or cheese spreads, the taste is, simply put, heavenly.
These tips are sure to help improve your focaccias texture and flavor.
And if you really want the full focaccia experience? you can always take a trip to Tuscany and visit a couple of days at the Toscana Saporita Cooking School 🙂