Hands down my favourite TV chef is Lidia Bastianich and my favourite TV cooking show is Lidia's Kitchen! It's broadcasted on TLN here in Toronto and I watch it any chance I get. Lidia is known for her easy, simple and classic Italian cooking and the reason I love her is because she makes everything look so simple and so delicious, with special attention to economical and seasonal ingredients. As part of my birthday gift one year my boyfriend gave me Lidia's cookbook "Lidia's Commonsense Italian Cooking" which I used for this recipe, you can also find the recipe online here: http://lidiasitaly.com/recipes/genovese-focaccia/. Note that her recipe calls for fresh basil and grana padano for the toppings, but feel free to change the toppings to your preference. I used lemon and rosemary for mine :)
One episode I saw a few weeks ago featured Lidia's focaccia recipes. I've actually never thought of making my own focaccia before but after watching the episode was inspired to give it a try. And surprisingly it's actually really simple! It just takes time since you need to give the dough a chance to rest and rise... but other than that, it's definitely a recipe that every beginner cook can tackle :)
I made this for an Easter lunch with my extended family, because I knew I wouldn't be able to finish a whole sheet of focaccia on my own :) It was a great addition to the table and I'll definitely make more in the future!
Check out what went down during my first attempt at homemade focaccia below!
The recipe calls for 6 cups of flour but to hold back 1/2 cup at first, allowing you the option to add more flour if necessary. I found that I didn't have to add any more flour at all, so for me the 5 1/2 cups of flour was the right measurement....And another reason for attempting this recipe: I really just wanted an excuse to use the hook paddle attachment on my new Kitchenaid mixer =P
After allowing the dough to rest for 1.5 hours, the dough rose quite substantially as you can see in the picture below! Not pictured is the dough in the sheet pan before baking, I let it rest/rise again for 30 minutes before popping into the oven.
The finished result! The lemons and top of the focaccia got some nice colour :) I also brushed with more olive oil and sprinkled some coarse salt all over the top right when I took it out of the oven.
I cut the lemons by hand (since I don't have a mandolin) and I would just say that you should try to slice the lemons as thinly as possible because the lemon juice/flesh really sink into the bread, so thicker slices means a more sour/lemony focaccia. But again, totally up to you.
I used dried rosemary because the fresh rosemary sprigs were sold out of the grocery store I went to! Booo! It would have made for a better presentation....
I think the next time I make it, I'll be more generous while slathering the olive oil before baking. I also left my focaccia in the oven for 5 more minutes because it initially wasn't as golden brown as I wanted it...
Pretty straightforward right? Hope you give it a try and let me know what you think!
Recipe for Lemon & Rosemary Focaccia from Lidia Bastianich
2 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp salt
For the topping:
1 lemon, sliced thin
1 tbsp dried rosemary (or a few sprigs of fresh rosemary)
1 tbsp course salt
2 tbsp olive oil
For directions, see Lidia's recipe here: http://lidiasitaly.com/recipes/genovese-focaccia/
A few suggestions from my experience:
- oil a large glass bowl very well before placing the dough for rising. The oil will help facilitate the dough's rising!
- slice the lemons (if you use lemons) as thinly as possible
- be generous when you brush on the olive oil onto the top of the focaccia before and after baking
- leave the focaccia in the oven until it gets golden brown and really crispy. I left mine in for 5 minutes longer than the recipe calls for
- feel free to mix and match the toppings to your preference