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What Sets Focaccia Apart From Other Types Of Bread

focaccia on board
focaccia on board - Anna_shepulova/Getty Images

There are hundreds of different types of bread that fall under numerous categories according to preparation, cooking methodology, and ingredients. Focaccia is technically a flatbread, despite the inclusion of yeast, but its preparation and texture put it into a delicious class of its own.

Historians consider focaccia to be pizza's predecesor. In fact, it's even referred to as pizza genovese in Genoa, Italy. However, it has a fluffier, more airy crumb than most usual pizza doughs, with a texture closer to a crusty bread boule, that comes from leaving it to rise after it's rolled out, unlike pizza bases. Like many types of wheat-based bread, focaccia's recipe consists of a simple foundation of flour, water, yeast, and salt, and requires various rising periods. However, focaccia dough is notably coated in olive oil as it rises and relies on a unique stretching and folding method to incorporate air bubbles into the dough. It's baked in a shallow pan, giving it a flatter appearance than regular leavened bread but with a spongy, bubbly crumb. The olive oil coating is part of what makes it unique, resulting in a deliciously crispy top and bottom crust.

Most unique of all, however, is the fun and final preparation step when making focaccia, before throwing it in a hot oven. The final step involves repetitively digging your fingers into the bubbly, jiggly dough, then delicately releasing your fingers. This creates focaccia's tell-tale dimpling and gives it one of the most desirable mouth feels of any bread.

Read more: The 20 Best Olive Oils For Cooking

Focaccia Variations

fingers dimpling focaccia bread dough
fingers dimpling focaccia bread dough - lovelypeace/Shutterstock

As a flatbread that originated during Etruscan times over 2000 years ago, focaccia has come to encompass numerous varieties. Focaccia genovese, a Ligurian focaccia, is the gold standard and most globally popular type of focaccia bread, made with a considerable amount of olive oil and sprinkled with salt. However, regional and provincial varieties often feature different foundational and additional ingredients.

Focaccia was originally an unleavened flatbread, lacking the brewers' yeast used to leaven focaccia genovese. Focaccia di Recco honors the ancient recipe, consisting of just water, flour, and olive oil. Its government-protected recipe fuses two sheets of dough with the help of fresh cheese, baked to a flat, crispy, bubbly, savory crisp.

Other variations swap wheat flour for chickpea or durum wheat flour. Furthermore, focaccia toppings run the gamut from fresh herbs like basil and rosemary to aromatics and vegetables. Some come slathered in tomato sauce or pesto. Sweet versions like focaccia veneta and piada dei morti swap olive oil for butter, salt for sugar, and add eggs to create a decadent sweet bread dotted with raisins and nuts and drizzled in honey.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.