A friend of mine who I used to flat with years ago moved to the 'big smoke' from a small coastal town about 3 hours south of Sydney. One visit from her parents they went down to a Manly cafe and her Mother, not accustomed to eating out decided she would try something different. She proudly announced she was going to have the folk-a -see-ya. Everyone was baffled. 'The what?' my friend asked her mother. The waiter solved the mystery: she wanted focaccia.
Every time we saw or had focaccia after that, we would joke about 'folk-a-see-yas' and make comments about how it sounded like a dance: 'dance of the folk-a-see-yas'. This story has now been passed on to my hubby and it has become part-and-parcel of every encounter with focaccia.
I've been making this for a while and keep meaning to share it with you but it's usually made in haste and it takes no time I just forget. With our Italian month in full swing I think it's the most appropriate time to be sharing these Italian gems and if you love focaccia, you'll just HAVE to give it a try. You really can't stuff it up. I promise.
As for toppings, let your tastes decide. I have a house full of olive lovers so that's a non-negotiable - but you could try potato and rosemary or char-grilled artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes and/or capsicum - let your imagination run wild! My only words of advice will be don't go TOO crazy - keep in mind you don't want your dough to be so weighed down with ingredients it's too soggy to eat - so practice the 'less is more' principle.
50ml olive oil
1 tb dried yeast
2 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp salt flakes
2 tsp tomato paste
1/2 clove garlic, minced
2 tb finely grated Parmesan cheese
In a jug or small bowl, add the yeast and oil to 300ml warm (not hot) water and set aside until the yeast reacts (about fifteen minutes)
In your mixer with a dough hook or in a large bowl add the plain flour and the salt. Add the yeasty mixture and mix well until it becomes a soft dough. It will be a bit on 'runny' side but don't worry.
Place in a bowl greased with olive or canola oil and leave to sit in a warm place until it doubles in size - about one hour.
Place on a greased tray and spread out as evenly as possible (which is why it is important the dough is pliable and soft)
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees c.
Mix the tomato paste with 1/4 cup water and the garlic. Brush over the dough.
Add your toppings. (I had sliced kalamata olives, sliced cherry tomatoes, rosemary, fresh parsley) then sprinkle your Parmesan cheese over the top.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until it is dry on top and you can lift it up at the corners. Another way you can tell if it is cooked through is the centre should not be wet if you touch it, it should spring back.
Cut it up and eat it warm or freeze for up to 2 months in an airtight container or zip lock bag!
Don't forget to enter the Italian giveaway this month for a lion's share of Italian cooking goodness!
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