Woohoo! We’re famous! Weinoo gave us a great write up on Gael Greene’s blog. We are in the Travel Section, and it even mentions my focaccia! Scroll down to the bottom of the article for a picture of Montone and the review of Erba Luna Ristorante. Thank you Weinoo!!
Funny thing about bread, it touches some primal chord. The bread found in Umbria and Tuscany is usually the salt less variety, and it’s an acquired taste. Some people find it more useful as a doorstop than as something you would willingly put into your mouth, but over the years, I’ve come to understand the appeal of this uniquely flavorless bread.
I started making focaccia at the restaurant, but only on weekends, then I had to start making it every dinner, then twice a day. It stunned me how popular the bread became. People would ask for the recipe, or ask if I could I give a bread baking class. Focaccia is simple, it’s the ultimate no knead bread.
Here is the basic recipe, adapted from my friend Dario’s recipe:
Put the flour into a bowl, and then add the yeast. I use commercial
cake yeast, which is easily available in Italy in small cakes. In the
States youâll need to track it down. Try asking at a bread bakery and
see if they’ll sell you some. If you have cake yeast, roll it around
in the flour and then rub it between your hands, it will crumble into
fine dust and be easy to incorporate into the dough.
Add the ice water and mix for about 5 minutes. Add the salt and mix for
another for 5 minutes. Don’t even attempt to turn this out onto a
board, keep it in the bowl and use a strong wooden spoon. Mix with one
hand, turn with the other, be sure there is some good music playing, it
helps pass the time.
Lightly coat the inside of a bowl or container with olive oil and pour
the bread dough into the container, cover, and immediately place in the
refrigerator. Leave in the refrigerator overnight (minimum 12 hours).
This ‘retarding’ of the yeast is what will develop the flavor.
The next day, line a baking sheet with parchment paper, cover the paper
with a bit of olive oil and pour the bread dough into the pan, cover
and let rise for about 2 to 3 hours.
When you are ready to bake the focaccia, preheat the oven to about 500
F. Let the oven get good and hot for at least 45 minutes before you
attempt to bake in it.
Add your favorite topping: onions, olives, rosemary, salt and pepper,
spices, cheese. But, keep it simple, you want to accent the flavor of
the bread, not overwhelm it.
Now comes the fun part, drizzle some more olive oil over the top and
then with using finger, poke lots and lots of dents into the focaccia.
Here’s the tricky party. You want to get some steam going in the oven,
so fill a clean spray bottle with hot water. As soon as you put the
bread in the oven, squirt the water over the bottom and sides of the
oven and close the door quickly. DO NOT HIT THE LIGHT BULB IN THE OVEN
WITH THE WATER!!
After 10 minutes, turn the heat down to 400F and continue baking until
the bread is crusty and brown on top. When it’s done, turn it out onto
a rack and cool. Don’t eat it while it’s mad hot, you’ll burn your
tongue, and anyway, it tastes better after its cool.