Focaccia is mostly known as Italian flat bread topped with herbs, salt, and olive oil. One of the original types of focaccia is the one from Liguria, known as focaccia alla genovese after the capital city of Liguria (Genova). This is plain focaccia, preferably eaten still warm, and not only eaten with dinner but also used for sandwiches as well as for breakfast! Focaccia alla Genovese is salty, oily and slightly crispy on the outside and soft and airy on the inside. You could also bake it topped this with olives, rosemary, or sage, but it is really good just by itself. I learned to like this when visiting Liguria, where it is sold by specialized focaccerie that are as common in Liguria as bakeries in France. Don’t worry if it is not sold anywhere near you, because I found out it is not very difficult to make your own.
500 grams (3 1/2 cups) high-gluten flour such as bread flour [100%]
330 grams (1 3/8 cup) water [65%]
21 grams (.7 oz) fresh bread yeast [4.2%]
about 125 ml (1/2 cup) extra virgin olive oil
12 grams (2 1/2 tsp) salt [2.5%]
9 grams (2 tsp) sugar [1.7%]
coarse sea salt
Make a dough out of the ingredients. I use my breadmaker for this. The dough will be slightly more sticky than regular bread dough due to the higher water content (for ordinary bread 60% water to 100% flour by weight, for focaccia 66% water to 100% flour by weight).
Make a puddle of about 3 Tbsp olive oil on a baking sheet.
Put the dough onto the puddle of olive oil and use a brush to cover the dough completely with the oil.
Put the baking sheet with the dough into the oven with only the light switched on. Let it rise for 1st time (out of 3) until doubled in volume, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
This is how it looks after the 1st rise.
Now stretch and flatten the dough with your hands, making sure there is oil underneath. Brush the top with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt. Put it back into the oven with the light switched on to let it rise for the 2nd time (out of 3) for half an hour.
Now make holes in the dough with your fingers. Pour more olive oil on top so that there is olive oil in every hole.
Let this rise for the 3rd and file time for half an hour.
Preheat the oven to the highest setting, 250-300C/475-575F. The high temperature ensures that the focaccia will be slightly crispy without becoming chewy.
Spray the top of the focaccia with water at room temperature right before putting it into the oven.
Bake the focaccia until golden, 10-15 minutes. Let it cool a bit before serving.