Foccacia with Rosemary, Black Pepper, and Garlic
From Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy by Mary Anne Esposito. Published by Peter Randall Publisher, ©2018. Reprinted with permission.
- Servings: Makes 2 focacce.
From Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy by Mary Anne Esposito who wrote this introduction to this versatile and flavorful foccacia --
A straightforward focaccia is a flat bread usually made in a rectangular pan and flavored with simple ingredients like a brushing of olive oil, a few olives, a sprinkling of cheese, and some fresh herbs like rosemary or oregano. Depending on the region of Italy, the toppings can change like a chameleon. The word focaccia comes from focolare, meaning “hearth,” because these flatbreads were originally made in stone ovens.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing the baking sheets if necessary
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced
- 6 tablespoons fresh rosemary needles
- 1 recipe Basic Pizza Dough (see below)
- Cornmeal (if using a baking stone)
- Coarsely ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- If using a baking stone, place it on the middle rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 500°F. If using baking sheets, preheat the oven to 450°F and lightly brush 2 (18 x 13-inch) baking pans with olive oil.
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a small sauté pan. When it begins to shimmer, turn it off and add the garlic and 4 tablespoons of the rosemary, pressing on the mixture to infuse the oil. Set aside.
- If using baking sheets, divide the dough in half and roll out each piece on a lightly floured surface into an 18 x 13-inch rectangle. Place the pieces on the oiled baking sheets and brush the dough with half of the garlic-rosemary oil. Sprinkle each one evenly with the remaining 1 tablespoon rosemary, black pepper, and half of the grated cheese. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the bottoms are crisp and the tops golden brown. Cut into squares and serve hot.
- If using a baking stone, divide the dough in half and set one half aside. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a 15 x13-inch circle and place on a baker’s peel dusted with cornmeal. Brush the dough with half of the garlic rosemary oil and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon rosemary, black pepper, and half of the grated cheese. Transfer the dough from the peel to the stone using a jerking motion of the wrist. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the bottom is crisp and the top is golden brown. While the first focaccia is baking, prepare the second one and have it ready on the baker’s peel. Cut each focaccia into squares and serve warm or at room temperature.
Basic Pizza Dough
There is no question that the right flour makes the best pizza. Caputo flour, the very same flour used in Naples to make their famous pizza, is a high-gluten flour, 12 to 14 percent protein. The traditional pizza Napoletana has a thin, soft middle and a cornicione (crust rim) that balloons up in the oven with charring on the edges.
Caputo flour is available online, or you can substitute 00 flour, which is Italian all-purpose flour and available online from King Arthur Flour or Brick Oven Baker. (Unbleached all-purpose flour will also give good results.) This recipe was developed using Caputo flour, so you may find yourself needing to adjust the amount of water depending on what type of flour you use. This dough is made very quickly in a food processor. You will note that only 1 teaspoon of yeast is used, resulting in a slow rise, giving much better flavor to the dough. Make a classic pizza margherita, topping the dough with tomato, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil.
Makes 2 pizza crusts
1½ cups warm (110°F) water, preferably filtered
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
3 to 3 1/4 cups Caputo or King Arthur 00 flour
1 teaspoon salt
Extra-virgin olive oil, for greasing the bowl
Pour the water into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the yeast and whirl to blend. Let stand for 10 minutes, until chalky and bubbles begin to appear. Add 2½ cups of the flour and the salt; whirl to combine and form a ball of dough that moves away from the sides of the bowl and is not tacky to the touch. Add more flour if the dough is very wet, but be careful not to add too much flour or it will result in a dry, hard texture. The dough should be soft but not gooey.
Grease a large bowl with olive oil and coat the dough in the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours. The dough can be made a day ahead; after the rising step, punch it down and place it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until needed, then transfer the dough to a large bowl and allow it to stand for several hours at room temperature before forming the pizza.
When ready to form the pizza, punch down the dough and divide it in half. Stretch each half with your hands into a 10-inch circle. Place each piece on a lightly oiled sheet of parchment paper.
Preheat the oven to 450°F at least 30 minutes before baking; heating a baking stone in the oven is ideal for a great crust but, lacking that, you can place the pizza with the parchment paper on a rimless baking sheet.
Divide the tomato sauce or tomatoes equally between the two pieces of dough. Scatter the mozzarella on top. Bake until the bottom and edges turn golden brown, about 15–20 minutes. Remove the pizza from the oven and scatter the basil leaves over the top. Cut in wedges and serve hot, with a drizzle of olive oil over each slice.
Tip: Throw away your pizza wheel! Use kitchen shears to cut focaccia and even pizza. No struggling, just nice even slices.