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Focaccia Col Farmaggio Di Recco

September 3, 2011

    I was reading Vogue magazine a few weeks ago and I stumbled across a delicious-sounding recipe for a type of Italian flatbread. Being it is that I have Italian heritage (Sicilian to be precise) and an amazing mom that has taught me how to make the food of my people (most of them anyway), I think I could replicate it. To avoid forgetting this recipe or otherwise losing track of the wonderful find that Jeffrey Steingarten (the author of the article) spent many years of sampling various flatbread to find, I will share it with my dear reader(s).

    And if any of you try it out for yourselves, tell me how it turned out! I’d love to hear your stories. Now without further delay, I present the recipe as it appears in the June 2011 issue of Vogue magazine.

Ingredients

1 cup water (237 g)

1/4 cup plus 1 T extra-virgin olive oil for the dough, preferably from Liguria, plus about 5 T more for the pan and the top surface of the focaccia. If you add a tablespoon or two of additional olive oil to the dough, it will become much easier to stretch but more fragile.

3 cups flour (433.7 g), half unbleached all-purpose and half bread flour (I used King Arthur’s version of both flours) ; or use any flour you prefer, as long as it has about 12% protein.

10 to 20 oz. (280 to 580 g) Crescenza cheese from Italy (usually the Inverizzi brand), or produced domestically by BelGiosio, Bellwether Farms, or Mozzarella Company; or you can substitute Taleggio. I prefer the taste of Italian Crescenza, but as it gets older, it becomes too runny to use.

1/4 tsp fine salt

Equipment

A heavy pizza stone

An electronic kitchen scale that can measure down to 1 or 2 g

A heavy pan or even a skillet with a low edge, mine measures 17 1/2 inches across, and this recipe was composed and tested using it. That comes out to 240 square inches, and you can scale this recipe up or down to match the surface area of your pan. If it differs by more or less than 40 square inches, don’t bother to recalculate.

Cooking Instructions

  Place pizza stone on the floor of your oven (or if yours is an electronic oven, on the lowest shelf). Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Farenheit (or 550 or 575 if your oven is capable of it).

  The dough can be kneaded by hand or in a heavy-duty mixer designed for kneading bread dough. These instructions are for KitchenAid, with the spiral-shaped dough hook. Hand kneading will take twice as long. If you under knead, the dough will not stretch properly.

  Into the bown of your mixer, pour the water and olive oil and whisk by hand until the two liquids form tiny bubbles. Add the flour all at once and stir with a wooden spoon until a rough dough forms. Attach the bowl and dough hook to the mixer and knead at a reasonably slow speed, number 2 on the KitchenAid, for about nine minutes, until the dough is very smooth and elastic. Form the dough into two balls, one just a bit larger than the other, and cover them with plastic wrap. Let rest at room temperature for between 90 minutes and three hours.

  Sprinkle 2 T of oil over the surface of your pan.

  On a floured surface, pat the larger ball of dough into a circle; then, with a well-floured rolling-pin, roll the dough back and forth a few times into a long oval. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and again roll back and forth into a rough circle (keeping the surface between the dough, and the rolling-pin lightly floured so that the dough does not stick). Turn over the dough again and roll in both directions to enlarge the circle until it measures about 14 inches across. As you roll out the dough, do not stop short of the edges; the circle of dough should be no thicker around the outside than in the center.

  Now you’re ready to stretch the dough. (Once you get the hang of it, you will amaze friends, family, and yourself.) Hold your hands in front of you, fingers curled (otherwise they can easily pierce the dough). With your knuckles pointing upward, drape the dough over them. Rotate the circle of dough by passing it from hand to hand, which after three to ten minutes should stretch it into a circle large enough to cover the entire surface of the pan. If you concentrate on stretching just the circumference of the circle as you rotate the dough in this way, gravity will do the rest and stretch out the interior.

  Drape the dough over the pan. If necessary, stretch it to cover the rim. Press the dough down against the rim of the pan to keep it in place. Patch any holes by cutting off some of the extra dough along the edges, moistening it, and pressing it over the hole. Break up the cheese into pieces about the size of walnuts and arrange them over the surface of the dough.

  Roll and stretch the other ball of dough (it will be nearly translucent), drape it over the pan to cover the first layer of dough and cheese, and press it down all around the rim of the pan. Pinch six to eight holes in the top of the dough to allow steam to escape. Sprinkle the focaccia with a scant 1/4 cup of oil and spread it with a brush or your hand. As you do this, press the dough around the balls of cheese. Sprinkle the top of surface with salt. Press the rolling-pin around the rim of the pan to trim the border of the extra dough, the remove it.

  Bake on a pizza stone for 10 to 12 minutes, until the focaccia has shrunk from the rim and is golden brown on top and darker in many places. If the top layer of dough puffs up during baking, press it down with a long-handled spoon. Halfway through, rotate the pan.

  Remove the pan from the oven and slide the focaccia onto your counter. Allow it to cool for half a minute, then cut it in a checkerboard pattern with the point of a knife, to yield about sixteen rectangles. Enjoy while very warm. (In a pinch, leftovers can be reheated in a toaster.)

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. SaraPey permalink
    September 5, 2011 4:54 am

    That sounds great! Have to try that sometime!

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