Focaccia takes its name from the Latin “panis focacius,” or “hearth bread”: A lightly yeasted flat bread baked on coals or a hearth to create a filling accompaniment to dip into soups, stews, olive oil or vinegars.
It is thought to have originated with either the Etruscans or ancient Greeks at the beginning of the first millennium BC, but is now widely associated with the Ligurian (Genoa) cuisine of Italy. As the Romans expanded their empire they took the idea of focaccia with them to France and Spain and from there it spread around the world, with each culture putting its own spin on techniques and flavors.
The blog “Love & Olive Oil” states that a good, “authentic focaccia is light, airy and yeasty, crispy around the edges but soft and pillowy in the middle. The characteristic dimples serve as vessels to collect the salt and oil, infusing the bread with intense flavor (and yet, no oiliness, despite the sheer amount of oil that is used).”
Making focaccia involves combining flour, preferably with a high gluten content, with water, yeast, extra virgin olive oil and salt to form a dough. The dough is then allowed to rise, is dimpled and can be baked plain. Or flaky salt, herbs. spices, garlic, cheese, honey, fruits and other additives can be mixed in or used to top the bread for an infinite variety of savory or sweet versions.
The process may seem complicated and time consuming, but it’s not. Minimal special equipment is