did you spy the label "best in class" this recipe has been filed under...? because this definitely is, best in class. it's the best focaccia i ever made. maybe i've eaten a couple ones that were a teensy bit better yet? but not many. either way, this is close to perfect. focaccia heaven!
and, as so often, the difference isn't in the ingredients. it's in the doing. extra love and special care, yes. and a super fabulous trick. all this time, i've had fabulous marcella's book under my nose on my living room table, using it for trickier stuff than focaccia (like home made pasta). all the while (snobbily) thinking i was in charge of focaccia, because my mom's pretty good at it and she kind of taught me everything she knows. i admit now that this is just that little bit better than hers. sorry, not sorry. hehe.
world's best focaccia
recipe adapted from marcella hazan
1 kg flour
40 g fresh yeast
650 ml lukewarm water
3 tbsp. olive oil plus more for baking
1 1/4 tbsp. salt
for the topping:
2 tbsp. coarse sea salt
3 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. lukewarm water* (*depending on the weather)
a couple of rosemary twigs
break the yeast into pieces and dissolve it in about 100 ml of the lukewarm water. let sit for about 10 minutes. in a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the flour and salt and make a well in the middle. add the dissolved yeast to the well, cover lightly with flour and let sit for another ten minutes. add the rest of the water and the olive oil and start to knead the dough on the lowest speed and then gradually taking the speed up a notch until a dough forms. knead for 10 minutes.
note: of course, marcella the goddess is against the use of a kitchen helper for kneading. but since i've only had a kitchen aid living in our household since a couple of weeks and i'm still rather excited about it, i absolutely wanted to make the best use of it. and it turned out super nice, as you can see. the good thing about making it with your kitchen aid is that the dough can really stay very wet and sticky all the time, which would make it impossible to knead by hand, but meaning it will render the focaccia more moist.
turn off the kitchen aid and shape the dough into a ball. brush a baking sheet with some olive oil and sit the dough on top. let rest for a good 1 1/2 hours.
after the indicated rising time, simply flatten the dough to fill the wohle baking sheet. you can use your fingers for that. let rise again for 45 minutes.
preheat the oven to 230 miuntes. now press your fingers into the dough to create little wells. combine the rest of the olive oil for the topping with the warm water and stir very well for a while. pour the mixture over the focaccia dough, so that it fills up the wells. sprinkle with coarse sea salt. bake for about 15 minutes, maybe turn the sheet after 12 minutes. and after 12 minutes you can also add the rosemary twigs on top, simply to infuse the focaccia with its marvellous scent. a couple of minutes of it lying on the focaccia will do, no need to bake it from the start (it will only burn). let cool and enjoy.
particularly nice served with a tomato and mozzarella salad that you've dressed with a bit of lemon juice (honestly), thyme and a good salt. buon appetito!