Recipe Review

Samin Nosrat Has a Clever Trick for Making the Best Focaccia Ever

published May 19, 2021
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Brett Regot

This recipe is part of Kitchn 100 — the hundred recipes you need right now. Check out all of the amazing dishes, from Kitchn and beyond, here.

Samin Nosrat has the most infectious laugh I’ve ever heard — I’m sure those who have watched her Netflix series Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat would agree. She’s an absolute joy to watch on screen, and I learn so much every time I watch her cook.

One of my favorite moments of the series was when Samin met with focaccia expert Diego in Liguria, Italy. Watching Diego guide Samin through the process of making Ligurian focaccia was absolutely delightful — and somewhat surprising! Ligurian focaccia generally involves brining the dough with saltwater, which is a technique I’d never seen before. I gasped as I watched them pour the water over the gorgeous dough they had just made, but the end result looked absolutely delicious.

Needless to say, I’ve been wanting to make this recipe for quite some time now, so it was a no-brainer to include Samin’s adapted version of Diego’s recipe in this focaccia showdown. Plus, everyone I know who’s made it — including Kitchn’s Features Director, Arieraves about it. Here’s what happened when I gave it a try.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Brett Regot

How to Make Samin’s Ligurian Focaccia

Stir together water, yeast, and honey until dissolved. In another bowl, whisk together flour and salt just until combined, then add the yeast mixture and olive oil. Stir with a rubber spatula until incorporated, then scrape down the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let ferment at room temperature until the dough has just about doubled in size, 12 to 14 hours.

After the dough has risen, spread olive oil into an 18×13-inch baking sheet. Use your spatula to release the dough from the sides of the bowl and fold it gently into itself. Transfer to the baking sheet and pour more oil on top. Carefully stretch the dough to the edges of the baking sheet. The dough will likely shrink a bit, so you’ll repeat the stretching once or twice more over the course of 30 minutes.

Using the pads of your first three fingers, dimple the dough by pressing down at an angle. To make the brine, mix together salt and water until the salt has dissolved, then pour the brine over the dough, concentrating on filling the dimples. Let the dough proof for an additional 45 minutes until it’s light and bubbly.

Thirty minutes into the second proof, preheat your oven to 450°F. If you have a baking stone, place it on the center rack. Alternatively, use an inverted baking sheet. The idea is that whichever surface you use will heat as the oven heats.

Sprinkle the dough with flaky salt and bake until the bottom is crispy and golden when checked with a spatula. To get nice browning on the top crust, place the focaccia on the upper rack and bake 5 to 7 minutes more. Remove from the oven and drizzle with more oil — the bread will absorb it as it sits. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before releasing it from the metal sheet and placing it on a wire rack to finishing cooling.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Brett Regot

My Honest Review of Samin’s Ligurian Focaccia

To put it simply, this focaccia was perfect. The inside was light and soft while the outer crust was crisp and beautifully browned. When I sliced into it, it was filled with the gorgeous air pockets I associate with the best focaccia breads.

In addition to looking amazing, this focaccia also tasted amazing. Even though I’d watched Samin and Diego pour the saltwater brine over their dough, I was still so nervous doing it! The bread looked really wet, but once I tasted the final product, it was clear to me exactly why the brine is necessary: It imparts so much flavor into the dough. While you can add aromatics like rosemary and sage, this focaccia honestly doesn’t need it, which I think is the ultimate test of a good focaccia recipe.

All in all, Samin’s recipe is a testament to learning straight from the source: in this case, focaccia expert Diego.

Credit: Nicole Rufus

If You Want to Make Samin’s Focaccia, a Few Tips:

  1. Use Diamond Crystal kosher salt, if possible. To control the saltiness, I would recommend using the same salt that Samin suggests in the recipe, or refer to this conversion chart.
  2. Break out the special olive oil. Because olive oil is such a large part of the bread’s flavoring, you’ll want to use a high-quality olive oil here (we’re partial to Brightland).

Rating: 10/10

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Brett Regot

Have you tried Samin’s focaccia recipe? Let us know in the comments!