This focaccia is made in the dimpled, Ligurian “schiacciata” tradition. It can be topped with anything, including cheese, olives, and dabs of pesto. The dough is bathed with salt water and oil, sealing in the moisture and creating a salty, crunch crust. Former Oliveto Pastry Chef Jenny Raven used instant yeast here because it is increasingly more prevalent in stores, and because it shortens the preparation time with the same results as active dry yeast. Enjoy!
Ligurian-Style Whole Grain Focaccia
Makes 1 large loaf
Created for the Oliveto Café in Oakland, CA
2¾ cups lukewarm water
1¾ cups Community Grains Hard Red Winter Wheat Whole Grain Flour
2 tsp + 1½ sea salt
2 tsp instant yeast
¼ cup + ¼ cup olive oil
8 oz. goat cheese or ricotta
Small bunch of spring onions
¾ cup warm water
Pour the first amount (2¾ cups) of water into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the flour, yeast, 2 tsp salt and 1/4 olive oil. Mix with the dough hook until the dough comes together. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and put in a warm place. Let dough rise until doubled.
Meanwhile, prepare your filling. Chop off the top half of the onions, down to where the onion (though still green) is a little more robust. Slice on the bias into ¼-inch-thick medallions and cover with cold water in a large bowl. Toss to clean out dirt and drain. Heat a little oil and sauté the onions until tender, throwing on a pinch of salt to finish.
When the dough has risen to double, pat it evenly into a well-oiled 12×16-inch sheet pan and dimple with fingers. Mix together ¾ cups warm water and 1½ tsp sea salt, stirring to dissolve. Pour the salted water over the slab and squirt liberally with the second amount of oil. Dot the top of the dough with teaspoon-sized pats of fresh cheese and distribute the sautéed spring onions evenly over the top. Press the cheese and onions gently into the dough.
Preheat oven 425 degrees while you wait for the dough to rise again to fully doubled. Bake until the top of the focaccia is browned and the dough is set, which will be about ½ hour in most home ovens.