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La Focaccia Ligure

Or, Wonderful Flatbreads

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Making Focaccia: Dimple Dough

Making Focaccia: Dimple Dough

© Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com
Focaccia means many things in Italy. In Florence, for example, it's a close cousin of pizza, a disk of dough the pizzaiolo bakes untopped (or, at the most, with slices if fresh tomato laid over it). It emerges crisp and puffy, and is topped with things that don't require heat, say good fresh buffalo mozzarella and raw prosciutto, or perhaps shredded arugola and fresh tomatoes with bresaola (salt-cured beef). In short, refined combinations that delight both eye and palate.

In Massa, on the Tuscan coast, a focaccia ordered in a pizzeria will be the same, but what you'll be given if you ask for focaccia in a bakery will be what's called schiacciata in Florence: a thin loaf of bread that was tamped down with a spoon to dimple its surface, sprinkled with salt, and well oiled with extravirgin olive oil before going into the oven. A heavenly snack, and the perfect base for a sandwich made with prosciutto or mortadella and cheese (or whatever else suits your fancy).

You can find this kind of focaccia in nearby Liguria as well, but they also make others; I'll never forget the time I dined at Manuelina's in Recco (Not far from Portofino), and beheld a focaccia the size of a wagon wheel, filled with melted cheese whose slight bitterness interacted marvelously with the saltiness of the bread. They served it as an antipasto, and after the first bite I was sorely tempted to tell the waiter to forget about the other delicacies I'd ordered and just bring me more.

The basic focaccia recipe below will work nicely as alternative day-to-day bread, while the more elaborate focaccias will work well as party or snack foods. As will the focaccia al formaggio, which also makes for a fine antipasto, or as the main entrée in a light lunch (served with a tossed green salad, seasoned with olive oil, vinegar, and salt, for example).

RECIPES:

Focaccia Ligure
The basic recipe.

Focaccia con la Salvia
A close cousin of the above, delicately flavored with sage.

Focaccia col Formaggio
Cheese-filled focaccia is a stunning treat.

Focaccia con le Cipolle
Focaccia topped with onions, the traditional sendoff of the Ligurian sailor.

A FEW NON-LIGURIAN FOCACCIA RECIPES:

Frozen-Dough Foccaccia
Quick & tasty -- excellent as an antipasto, and easy enough for children to make too.

Focaccia and Toppings:
Easy, Tasty Ideas from Dr. Stu.

Focaccette Pugliesi:
Tasty little focaccias stuffed with ricotta (and whatever else suits your fancy).

On the grill
Bread (including focaccia) can be baked on the grill too, and here's some advice.

Got more sites / recipes to suggest? Let me know.

Buon appetito!
Kyle Phillips
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