Focaccia is basically a yeasted flat bread, which is why it is also known as Italian flat bread. The dough of a focaccia is flavoured with olive oil and can sometimes be topped with herbs, vegetables and other toppings.
Just like pizza dough, focaccia dough is made with flour, oil, water, yeast and salt. However, focaccia is made with more yeast than pizza dough, which allows it to rise more and therefore create a fluffier and more bread-like result than pizza dough. Focaccias generally also preserve more moisture due to the punctures made in the dough before it is baked.
Unlike pizza, focaccias are generally served as a side dish and, for the most part, the toppings are minimal: usually a blend of oil, sea salt and herbs, though sometimes onions, olives, tomatoes, garlic or cheese are used.
The History of Focaccia
Many people consider focaccia to be an early prototype of pizza, with the basic recipe having origins with the Etruscans or Ancient Greeks. There is even evidence to suggest that the people of Pompeii – whose city was destroyed by Mount Vesuvius in 79AD – had a widespread industry of making and selling focaccias. Over time, it evolved to become what we now know as the modern pizza; however, the original recipe has simultaneously endured.
Originally, focaccias were baked on a heated tile, earthenware disk or on the hearth of a fire. Just like modern focaccias, they were sometimes pierced with a knife to prevent bubbling and preserve moisture; however, they were also sometimes punctured with needles to dot decorative patterns in the focaccia.
Over the centuries of creating focaccias, different regions of Italy have modified and adapted the original recipe to suit their own tastes and preferences. Even within Liguria, a region in Italy’s north-west, each of the various town and hamlets have each developed their own spin on the base recipe, including Camogli’s biscuit-hard focaccia to Voltri’s oily soft one. In Italy’s north-east, in Veneto, a traditional Easter dish consists of a sweet focaccia made of eggs, sugar and butter.
Today, focaccias of all different varieties are enjoyed across the globe as a snack, light meal, side dish or even dessert.
How to Make a Focaccia
The process to make a focaccia is very similar to making pizza dough in that it uses the same base ingredients: flour, olive oil, water, yeast and salt. As with pizza dough, be sure to use a strong flour, such as bread flour, which is high in gluten. You should also consider using premium olive oil as it is a key ingredient which gives the focaccia much of its flavour.
The main difference between pizza dough and focaccia dough is how much yeast you add and the time you allow for the dough to rise so that you can achieve the ideal light and airy texture. You generally also want to be fairly minimal with the toppings you decide to put on your focaccia so that the dough isn’t weighed down and loses its airiness.
Another key difference between pizza and focaccia is, of course, the shape. Instead of tossing the dough to create a classically round pizza, you can simply place your focaccia dough onto a well-oiled baking tray and spread it around so that it’s about two to three centimetres thick.
To create a beautiful golden crust, make sure to generously drizzle or brush olive oil over the dough before putting it into a high-heat oven.
Focaccias at 11 Inch Pizza
If you’re in the mood for a tasty focaccia but don’t have the time, energy or patience to make your own, then why not visit Melbourne’s best pizzeria, 11 Inch Pizza – which, incidentally, also makes Melbourne’s best focaccias.
At 11 Inch Pizza, we offer three different types of focaccia to suit your cravings: garlic, herb and cheese. Our garlic focaccia is topped with garlic oil, mozzarella, provolone, and oregano; our herb focaccia is topped with olive oil, oregano, rosemary and sea salt; and our cheese focaccia is topped with mozzarella, provolone, goat’s cheese, fior di latte, and rosemary.
If you’re looking for something a bit more substantial, why not have your focaccia as a side dish to one of our classic or gourmet pizzas? You can even finish off your three-course meal with a dessert pizza and wash it down with one (or several) of the many beverages we also offer.
If you have a dietary requirement, you can still enjoy all of the focaccias and pizzas we have to offer; we have vegan-friendly and gluten-free options which means that no one has to miss out on the deliciousness 11 Inch Pizza has to offer.