Sometimes there are so many bad renditions of a foreign dish, it takes a trip out of the country to realize how good the original is. That's how it was with focaccia for chef Nancy Silverton. One taste of the real thing in southern Italy sent her on a quest for the secrets of making great focaccia, which she shared in the LA Times last week.
The secrets of focaccia-making are not actually secrets, Silverton points out. All she did was carefully observe the traditional methods used in Italian kitchens, which taught her some key lessons about making focaccia that is "moist and chewy, with an irregular hole structure, and an oily, crunchy underside," not the usual dry, dense squares served in the U.S.
The three most important lessons she took home were:
1. Use a round cake pan, not a sheet pan. The smaller pan makes it easier to work with the dough, and less handling means a lighter, more airy bread.
2. Let the dough do its second rise in the pan it will be baked in. Doing this eliminates the need to move the dough after its second rise, keeping as much air in the dough as possible.
3. Pour a ⅛-¼ inch layer of olive oil in the bottom of the pan. This absorbs into the bottom of the focaccia, adding flavor and crunch.
Check out the article for all of Nancy Silverton's tips, as well as four recipes for focaccia. It's a great read that has us itching to try making authentic focaccia.
• Read the article & get the recipes: Nancy Silverton explains how to make focaccia
Do you have any tips for making focaccia?
(Image: Dana Velden)