Ligurian-style focaccia.

There’s a moment in Samin Nosrat’s Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat when she’s told that a traditional Ligurian focaccia is never more than 2 centimetres tall — not like the tall and fluffy focaccia of Puglia. That stuck with me, and I later confirmed it — by eating many, many portions of focaccia in Liguria. Anyway, this isn’t even Samin’s recipe (I didn’t have much success with the brine method, to be honest), but it is a reliable, versatile, 2-centimetre-tall Ligurian-style focaccia: crispy, salty and olive-oily on the outside, airy and springy on the inside. 

{ Recipe based on a half-batch of the focaccia from Saltie (RIP). }
Makes enough to fill a large baking dish.
Prep/waiting time: ~9 hours (start in the morning, finish in the evening).

Gather:
3 + 1/4 cups plain flour
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp dry yeast

1 + 3/4 cup warm water

3 tbsp good olive oil

Before baking:
1/4 cup good olive oil
A few good pinches of salt
(Optional) A few sundried tomatoes

Then:

  1. Add the flour, salt and yeast to a large mixing bowl and combine (just with a fork will do).
  2. Add the water, and stir with a wooden spoon until there’s no dry flour left.
  3. Using your hands, massage the dough/knead it in the bowl for about 30 seconds until it’s quite smooth — no need to go heavy-duty on the kneading.
  4. Lift the dough up in one hand, and pour the olive oil into the bowl with the other, then use your free/pouring hand to spread the oil around the bowl.
  5. Drop the dough back into the bowl and turn it a few times so it’s coated in olive oil.
  6. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and leave it on the bench for about 4 hours.
  7. After 4 hours, transfer your bowl of dough to the fridge for another 4 hours. Before it goes in, it should look a bit like this:

  8. After the second 4 hours, take your dough out of the fridge and preheat the oven to 470ºF/244ºC.
  9. Pour half the extra olive oil into a large roasting pan or baking dish, and spread it around evenly (with your hands is fine).
  10. Tip the dough into the prepared baking dish and use your fingers to stretch it out into all four corners. (The dough will fight you. You will eventually triumph.)
  11. Drape a tea-towel over the pan and leave your dough to sit somewhere warm for about half an hour or until the oven finishes pre-heating.
  12. When the oven is ready: Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the dough, spread it over the entire surface with your (clean) hands, and then use your fingers to press divots deep into the dough — as if you were playing chords on a piano.
  13. Sprinkle the extra few pinches of salt evenly over the now-dimpled dough. You could also put sun-dried tomato in each little hole, if you wish.
  14. Pop the tray/dish in the oven on the middle shelf, and bake for 15–25 minutes. This batch took a bit longer than usual, so the best approach is to use your eye — it should be golden all over but not too dark.
  15. Remove your beautiful focaccia from the oven and — using tongs or a spatula or both — lift it out of the tray/dish and onto a cooling rack.
  16. This focaccia is definitely best/crispiest/fluffiest on the day it’s baked, but it will keep in an airtight container for a few days. And you can always chuck leftovers back the oven for a few minutes to revive its crispy crust.

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