Focaccia is a type of flatbread from Italy, thought to have originated in ancient Greece but now associated with the north eastern part of Italy. Today however, it is a flatbread that is found all over Italy and baked in a variety of ways. The name Focaccia originates from the ancient Roman “Panis Focacius” which was originally a flatbread that was baked on the hearth. Focaccia and Pizza are different in many ways. Traditionally, Focaccia has the topping ingredients kneaded into the dough while Pizza has it on top of the dough.
An Italian Pizza crust is on the thinner side, rarely more than 1/2″ thick whereas a Focaccia is at least about 3/4″ thick. Focaccia therefore, tends to be “spongier” and softer whereas a Pizza is crisper. A lot of oil into the Focaccia dough after which it is shaped and then more oil is brushed/ drizzled on whereas in a Pizza, oil is not kneaded into the dough and only used on top. Also, Focaccia maybe served warm or cold (at room temperature) but a Pizza is always served hot and never cold.
In the old days, Focaccia rarely had any toppings except oil and herbs (and garlic as well) for flavour though this has changed. Focaccia Caprese is nothing but a basic Focaccia dough topped Caprese style. “Caprese” refers to something that comes from or is in the style of Capri, an island off the Italian coast near Naples.This means that the topping of the Focaccia Caprese is sliced tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, in addition to the usual olive oil and herbs that are typically used in this flatbread.The Focaccia is usually served either as a light snack, can be made into sandwiches or be served with a soup or salad to make a meal. This is the challenge recipe by Aparna for We Knead to Bake.Thanks Aparna for this wonderful recipe…
Adapted from The Kitchen Whisperer
For the Dough
Bread Flour/APF/Maida – 3 n 1/2 cups (I used 2n1/2 cups of APF + 1 Cup Wheat Flour)
Instant yeast – 2 tsp
Olive Oil – 1/4 Cup
Warm Water – 1 to 1 1/2 cups (I used 1 n 1/4 Cup exactly)
Sugar – 1n 1/2 Tbsp
Salt – 1tsp
A little more olive oil for brushing dough
For the Topping
Tomatoes – 3-4 sliced thin
Fresh buffalo mozzarella, cut into1/4” slices – As Needed
Fresh Basil Leaves – 1/2 cup, cut into thin strips (I skipped it)
For the Herbed Oil
Olive Oil – 1/4
Red Chili Flakes – 1/4 to 1/2 tsp
Finely minced garlic – 4-5 Cloves
Dried Oregano – 1tsp
Dried Basil – 1tsp
Salt to taste
Fresh basil leaves for garnishing
- First prepare the herbed oil.
- Put all the ingredients given under “for herbed oil” in a bowl and whisk them together and keep aside till required.
- The dough can be mixed and kneaded by hand (I did so) or machine.
- Put the yeast in 1 cup of warm water (Pic 1 below, make sure water is not too much hot).
- Add the remaining ingredients like sugar, flour, salt and oil in a wide bowl(Pic 1) and whisk well.
- Then add yeast+warm water (and as much more as you need) and knead until you have a soft elastic dough that is just short of sticky.
- Remove the dough from the mixed bowl, shape into a round and place in a well oiled bowl turning the dough around so it is coated(Pic 2).
- Cover and let it rise till almost double in volume, this should take about an hour(Pic 3).
- You can make this as 2 medium sized Focaccia or 4 smaller ones.
- For the rectangular Focaccia, take two rectangular pans/ jelly or Swiss roll pans (I used an 13″ by 9″ cake tin) and oil them well (if it is non stick pan then no need to grease).
- Lightly roll them (or press out) out and transfer to the baking pan.
- It alright if it’s an odd shape because Focaccia is really a “rustic” bread.
- The dough will shrink a little, use your fingers and push it out to the edges of the pan, making sure it’s evenly thick throughout.
- Let it rise for 20 minutes, Lightly oil your finger tips and press into the dough creating evenly spaced “dimples” in it (Pic 4).
- Generously brush the surface with oil.
- Bake at 210°C (410°F) for about 18 to 20 minutes till it is almost done and is beginning to turn golden brown.
- In another parchment greased tray I added sliced tomotoes with some salt and cooked to dry a bit, its optional, i did it to top over baked focaccia and i have not used fresh tomatoes for topping..
- Take the Focaccia out and turn up the heat of your oven to 230°C (450° F).
- Lightly drizzle some of the herbed oil over the Focaccia(Pic 5) and then evenly arrange some slices of mozzarella(Pic 5) over the bread, leaving very little space between them.
- Arrange the tomato slices over this and a little sprinkle the chopped basil over this(Pic 6).
- Drizzle some more Herbed Oil over the topping and return the bread to the oven.
- Bake the Focaccia for 5 to 8 minutes or until the cheese has just melted (Pic7).
- Remove from the oven(Pic 7) and garnish with fresh basil leaves.
- Cut the Focaccia into slices and serve while it is still hot.