Roman Focaccia

Straight from Monti's La Casa Vieja in Tempe, Arizona, this luscious, dimpled bread, isn’t merely a starter before diving into a steak, but a storied tradition woven into Italy’s rich tapestry. Baked to a golden perfection and infused with onion and aromatic rosemary, the focaccia is a symphony of flavors and textures that promises to transport you to the cobblestone streets of Rome with every bite.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt (initial addition)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons dried rosemary, finely crushed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt (for topping)

Instructions

Begin by combining your granulated sugar, dry yeast, and lukewarm water in a bowl, gently stirring until the yeast is completely dissolved. Allow this mixture to sit for a few moments to activate the yeast, ensuring that your bread will rise beautifully.

In a separate, large mixing bowl, gradually incorporate the bread flour into your yeast mixture, adding it one cup at a time to ensure smooth blending. Follow this with 1-1/2 teaspoons of salt and the finely chopped onion, mixing well to create a unified dough. Transfer this onto a lightly floured surface, kneading until you achieve a smooth, elastic dough.

Place your kneaded dough in an oiled bowl, covering it with a clean linen towel, allowing it to rise until it has doubled in size. This is a crucial step, ensuring your focaccia will have its signature light, airy texture.

Once your dough has risen, punch it down gently before transferring it to an oiled cookie sheet. Flatten your dough to an even 1-inch thickness. Create those characteristic dimples in your focaccia using your fingertips, pressing gently into the dough. Drizzle your olive oil generously over the surface, allowing it to pool in the dimples, infusing the bread with its rich flavor as it bakes.

Allow your dough to embark on a second rise until it has again doubled in size, enhancing the focaccia’s delightful texture. Following this, sprinkle the surface with your remaining salt and the finely crushed dried rosemary, ensuring an even distribution for a consistent flavor in every bite.

Preheat your oven to 400°F and bake your focaccia for 20 to 25 minutes, until it achieves a gorgeous, golden-brown hue. Be sure to keep an eye on it in the final moments to avoid over-baking. Once done, allow it to cool slightly before serving and then indulge in the heavenly, aromatic delight that is your Roman Focaccia.  

VARIATION: You can also top it with vegetables, cheeses, or other herbs. Commonly used toppers and mix-ins  in Italy include rosemary, sage, olives, anchovies, roasted red peppers, and garlic. 

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