madonna del piatto

Italian family cooking

slow dough focaccia

17 Comments

melt-in-the-mouth onion focaccia

I have always been one for slow things. My husband makes fun of me because when he tells me a joke I laugh 5 minutes later. Years ago I have embraced the Slow Travel movement. It was 2003 and we had just opened our B&B. I discovered this group of Italy lovers who wanted to convince the world that sipping a cappuccino on a terrace overlooking some rolling hills was better than sitting in a crammed bus herded towards the 10th museum stop of the day. Eccentrics.

Of course I do a lot of slow cooking. This does not necessarily mean that all my food needs 3 hours to be ready. Actually most of my recipes are ready in 10 to 30 minutes, but I do love to simmer sauces over very low heat, with a lid on, so flavor does not evaporate while boiling. Feels slow even if it is fast.

Recently I have discovered slow-raising dough. Characteristically, I have been slow at discovering it. The whole world has been making Lahey’s no knead bread or Hertzberg’s artisan bread for years.

Those lovely golden crusts and airy crumbs are obtained with minimal amounts of yeast and a wet dough.  The result is a less acidic, lighter and more digestible product. I wanted it for my pizza , I made a few experiments, I figured it. Happy.

Recipe

focaccia dough:

  • 1 gr. (1/4 teaspoon) active dry yeast
  • 250 ml (1 cup) warm water
  • 400 gr. (3 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

topping

  • 2 large onions, halved and sliced
  • 2 tablespoon evo oil
  • 2-3 leaves sage or a sprig of rosemary
  • 200 gr/ 7 oz fresh mozzarella, diced

The dough recipe above is the exact copy of my pizza recipe but uses 1/4 of the original amount of yeast. The recipe has been divided in two steps which are implemented in two subsequent days.

Day 1. Sprinkle the yeast over the water. Let it stand 1 minute, or until the yeast is creamy. Stir until the yeast dissolves. In a food processor, combine flour, olive oil, sugar and salt. Mix briefly. Add the yeast mixture and mix at maximum speed until a soft dough forms. Alternatively mix ingredients by hand in a large bowl, then turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Make sure to make the dough as wet as possible but still firm enough to obtain a soft ball. Transfer the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place it in a draft free area of your kitchen, covered by a tea towel.

Day 2. In a covered pan, slowly soften the onion slices in a couple of tablespoon of evo oil until translucent. Do not caramelize or they will burn in the oven.

Preheat the oven at maximum temperature. Allow enough time for the oven to stay at maximum temperature for at least 15 min before cooking the focaccia.

About one hour before dinner, knead the dough briefly, roll it and transfer into an oiled pizza pan. I generally lightly coat the pan with ½ olive oil and ½ sunflower oil. Again, place the pan  in a draft-free place, cover with a tea towel and let it rise until doubled in bulk, about 1/2 an hour.

Distribute the mozzarella, onions and chopped sage leaves over the focaccia dough. Drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons evo oil , season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and bake for 8 min or until golden below and around the sides.

For my daughter, who likes everything plain, I make mini focacce (pizzette)  sprinkled with olive oil, rosemary and salt. Once cooked, I freeze them in individual bags so they are handy to bring to school for a mid morning snack.

mini rosemary focaccia

Author: madonnadelpiatto

Former scientist, I now run B&B and cooking school Alla Madonna del Piatto in Assisi, Umbria, central Italy, together with my husband Ruurd, daughter Tea and truffle dog Google. We love good food and wine, travel, beautiful handicrafts like textiles and pottery. We feel fortunate to be able to share our magical mountain with many friends from all over the world.

17 thoughts on “slow dough focaccia

  1. Let me just say that I saw the picture at the top, drooled and came straight here to comment….!
    I then stopped myself and thought I’d better read everything first! Glad I did I love your writing…. however, it’s now 6.30pm and I want this NOW! Not tomorrow or the next day! You’ve made me a slave to your cooking!! See you Wednesday! xxxxx

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  2. Yum — Letizia, this looks sooooo good! I’ll be visiting my family soon, and I must give this recipe a try (I’m certain it will work better than the no-knead bread recipe I tried last year!)

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  3. Ciao Sandra
    the advantage of this recipe is that I have made it over and over again and it always work. I have just reduced the amount of yeast and took extra care to have a really soft dough.

    My no-knead-bread was also not a huge success because with the original recipe I get a batter, not a dough. I think this depends on differences within types of flour available in different areas of the world. Plus it resembles bread that I can easily buy here so less worth the effort for me.

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  4. Pingback: pizza fatta in casa « madonna del piatto

  5. I am definitely going to have to try this. It looks so wonderful!

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  6. I made the dough yesterday. It was delicious but I found that I needed a little more olive oil and/or water to get it moist enough to mix sufficiently in the food processor – I pulsed off and on for about 3 minutes so as not to overheat the dough. Thank you!

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    • Thank you Michael, I am glad you have tried it. I have experienced different flours absorb different amounts of moisture, so one has to adapt recipes to local ingredients. I’d sat to add more water rather than more oil.

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  9. Miss Letizia, I have decided that this is the first bread that will come from my newly ordered food processor. I have purchased a new cuisinart 14 cup, that was highly rated by at least 6 websites. I love to make bread by hand, but time is so precious that I prefer a food processor(especially after watching you make the best pasta dough this way)!! oh, the Pane degli dei, the simple focaccia, I have tasted it in so many forms, but this recipe, so simple, and unified in taste, is what I desire. I will let you know how it comes out, if my fingers are not to slippery to touch the correct keys!!!

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    • lovely Jeff, I am sure it will work out well. It might take a few experiments as not all flours absorb the same amount of water. I find that artisan flours (e.g. stone ground) take more moisture. The more hydrated is the dough the lighter and airy the focaccia will be. However too much water and the pizza will be a little thin. I don’t mind that as the flavor is always delicious. Please post back your results, thank you !

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      • Miss Letizia, The focaccia was wonderful. I made it by your recipe,and was very pleased with the texture, both inside and out. I had to bake it longer that I expected, but it turned out fine. Do you know the history, or origin of Focaccia?? I would certainly like to hear, if you know. Thanks again, Kim and I loved it. P.S. We put the onions, ad some wonderful garlic stuffed olives on the bread, very nice!

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  10. Great Jeff, thank you for reporting back! Here below is a link to the history of pizza. Focaccia has traditionally no tomato but nowadays the two names, pizza and focaccia are often mixed up as there are hundreds of variations with old and new ingredients http://madonnadelpiatto.com/2009/09/21/pizza-fatta-in-casa/

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  11. Pingback: torta al testo | madonna del piatto

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