foe-CAT-cha) is a flat oven-baked Italian bread, which may be topped with
onions, herbs or other foodstuffs, related to pizza. The word is derived
from the Latin focus meaning “centre” and also “fireplace” -- the fireplace
being in the centre of the house -- and this is a bread baked in the hearth.
In English, it is sometimes redundantly referred to as focaccia bread.
The basic recipe is thought by some to have originated with the Etruscans or
ancient Greeks, but it is now known as a delicacy of the Ligurian cuisine.
Due to the number of small towns and hamlets dotting the coast of Liguria,
the focaccia recipe has fragmented into countless variations (from the
biscuit-hard focaccia of Camogli to the oily softness of the one made in
Voltri), with some bearing little resemblance to its original form. The most
extreme example is the specialty "focaccia col formaggio" (focaccia with
cheese) which is made in Recco, near Genoa. Other than the name, this Recco
version bears no resemblance to other focaccia varieties, having a caillé
and cheese filling sandwiched between two layers of fine dough.
Focaccia is quite popular in Italy and is usually seasoned with olive oil
and herbs, topped with cheese and meat, or flavored with a number of
vegetables. Focaccia doughs are similar in style and texture to pizza doughs
consisting of high-gluten flour, oil, water, sugar, salt and yeast. Regional
variations also exist, such as focaccia dolce (sweet focaccia) popular in
some parts of northwestern Italy, consisting of a basic focaccia base and
sprinkled lightly with sugar, or including raisins, honey or other sweet
ingredients. Another common spelling is fugazza, commonly used in South
America. It derives from the Ligurian fugassa, popularized by immigrants.
Homemade Focaccia with olives and herbsFocaccia is used extensively as a
sandwich bread outside of Italy.
It is typically rolled out or pressed by hand into a thick layer of dough
and then baked in a stone-bottom or hearth oven. Bakers often puncture the
bread with a knife to relieve bubbling on the surface of the bread. Also
common is the practice of dotting the bread. This creates multiple wells in
the bread by using a finger or the handle of a utensil to poke the unbaked
dough. As a way to preserve moisture in the bread, olive oil is then spread
over the dough, by hand or with a brush prior to rising and baking.
Focaccia can be used as a side to many meals, as a base for pizza or as