Baking a Wonder Bread
As you prepare the dough and later add the small dents on the surface of the bread with your fingertip, you infuse your care to create something truly wonderful to serve as a base for a pizza, in a sandwich, or as a side meal to many Italian dishes.
Regional variants of the bread
As with many other Italian dishes, focaccia bread also leaves space for originality and experimentation. The different variants arise from different regions, each style competing with others in taste. It can be biscuit hard, as in the Camogli region, and it can be oily soft, as in the Voltri. Each small hamlet by the coast of Liguria has its own variety of the bread. It can have a cheese layer in between the bread crust as found in the Recco region, near Genoa. People in northwestern Italy enjoy a slightly sweeter version of the bread. In the USA, many pizza restaurants use this bread as the pizza base.
How to prepare the dish
The preparation would take some good kneading of the dough, but you can use a kneading machine as well. Start by stirring warm water, yeast and honey in a medium bowl. In about ten minutes, the yeast will form bubbles on top. Add ¼ cup olive oil, flour and a little kosher salt, about 1 teaspoon. Knead the dough until it is smooth. It takes about 15-20 minutes. Set the dough in a slightly oiled bowl, use a kitchen towel and leave it like that for an hour. The dough will swell almost to double its size. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to about 450 F. Press the dough in a baking sheet and make small dents in it using your fingertips.
Add olive oil and leave the dough 20 minutes to get puffy. Use olive oil to bake it until the focaccia turns golden brown.
Secrets of a great Bread Baking recipe
The greatest secret is to use good quality olive oil. If you have a favorite brand of olive oil, use it. You can top the focaccia bread with cream and fried onions, or you can use different kinds of herbs. Thyme and rosemary create a wonderful flavor in the bread. Tomatoes, especially the sun-dried ones, can also act as amazing toppings. You can easily make your homemade pizza. Just top the bread with cheese, tomatoes, and pepperoni and continue to bake until the cheese is bubbly.
What makes it special?
The bread has different variations in different regions. It gives a special identity to every small town. A true backpacking Italian can taste the bread and tell its origin. For those who love pizza, just think of the fact that every variant of the food means a different type of pizza, every time! You can prepare the dough and keep part of it to make focaccia later. Although these breads are best on the day you bake them, yet stale bread of one-two days can absorb the olive oil better, and gives a distinct taste. In Italy, it is not popular as sandwiches.