Appetizers and Snacks, Breads, Vegan/Vegetarian

How to Make Italian Focaccia Genovese

Nicoletta December 21, 2019

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How to Make Italian Focaccia Genovese, traditional focaccia from Genova (Genoa), in the northwest of Italy, thin and oily, fragrant, salty, soft and crunchy. The peculiarity of the Focaccia Genovese is that before the last rise, it is covered in salamoia, a brine made of abundant water, salt, and olive oil. This emulsion gives the focaccia a golden color and makes it particularly tasty, as well as soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside. Focaccia Genovese is not too hard to make at home, but you will need a little time and care for the multiple rises. The result will be worth every minute, I assure you. This focaccia is simply irresistible!

How to make Italian Focaccia Genovese

 

 

Steps of the preparation

There are a few steps involved, from the making of the “biga” (starter dough), to the focaccia dough, to the multiple rises. I also decided to let the dough rest overnight in the fridge, following the suggestions of an Italian blogger, Tavolartegusto.

For the “biga” (starter):
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add 100 grams of flour (taken from the total of the two flours mixed together), 60 grams of water (taken from the total), and the yeast. Knead until soft, then shape into a ball and with a sharp knife cut the top in a criss-cross pattern.
  2. Cover with a cling film and leave to rise in the oven, turned off, and with the light on, for 1 to 2 hours, or until doubled in size (for me 2 hours were necessary).
For the focaccia dough:
  1. In the bowl where the “biga”, the starter, is, add the rest of the flour, the rest of the water, the honey. Knead it until all the ingredients are mixed, a few minutes. The dough should stick around the hook. Then add the oil a little at a time and mix well about 5 minutes. You can also knead by hand. Finally, add the salt and mix until the dough is smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave it in the oven, turned off with the light on, to rise for 3 to 4 hours, or until tripled in volume. (In winter it will take about 4 hours, in the summer 2-3 hours).
You can prolong the rising in the fridge overnight, or use the risen dough right away

To make it more digestible, you can leave the dough in the fridge overnight. In this case, you can use 5 g of fresh baker’s yeast and leave the dough in the fridge for a minimum of one night to a maximum of 72 hours. When you are ready to use the dough, leave it out until it reaches room temperature and then proceed as below.

  1. Turn the risen dough upside down on a work surface and form a ball. Let stand 10 minutes.
  2. On a floured surface, roll out the dough slightly with a rolling pin lightly dusted with flour.
  3. Transfer the partially stretched dough into a lightly greased baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 40 minutes.
More steps, more rising times
  1. After that time, stretch the Focaccia Genovese right to the edges of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap again and let rise for 1 hour. At the end of the elapsed time, the focaccia dough will look well risen and rested. Now it’s time to make the holes!
  2. Sprinkle the surface of the dough and your hands with flour. Using the 3 middle fingers, press them gently but firmly in the dough, starting from the top of the pan and then slowly coming towards you, following an invisible line. If you have long nails you risk to break the dough; in this case, it would be better to use the knuckles.
  3. Afterward, in a measuring cup or jug, add the water, fine sea salt, and olive oil. Stir well until the salt is dissolved. It will look like a huge amount of brine, but this is what makes the Focaccia Genovese. Pour the emulsion on the surface of your focaccia, each hole must be full of brine. At this point, let your focaccia rise for the last time, covered, at room temperature (or in the oven turned off with the light on) for about 1 hour. In the end, the brine will be partially absorbed. Before putting it in the oven, add another drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of coarse salt.
Baking the Focaccia

The oven must be very hot. I had my oven at 420° F convection bake (220° C) but you can use the regular oven at 450°F (230-240°C). The focaccia needs to bake in the lower rack (shelf) of the oven first, for about 12 minutes, without opening the door. Each oven is different, so please check it after 12 minutes. You can move the focaccia on the upper shelf only when you see that by lifting the focaccia with a spatula the bottom is golden. Only then, transfer the focaccia to the upper shelf, where it will cook for about 10 more minutes. If the top looks golden and crisp, that’s it, your focaccia is ready, take it out. If not, after the 10 minutes, turn on the grill and leave it to broil for 1 more minute. Every time you open the oven door, let the steam evaporate a bit before getting too close, it’s really hot!

When you take it out of the oven, it will look like this. Brush extra virgin olive oil on top for maximum fragrance. Leave it on a rack to cool just a bit, then cut it.

How to make Italian Focaccia Genovese-front of the focaccia with napkin

The Focaccia Genovese is golden and crisp on the edges and on top, with beautiful holes. The bottom is also nice and golden and crispy.

How to make Italian Focaccia Genovese-front of the focacciaHow to make Italian Focaccia Genovese

The peculiarity of the traditional Focaccia Genovese is its thinness, they say that it can’t be more than 2 cm high.

 How to make Italian Focaccia Genovese-crumb

Focaccia Genovese for breakfast?

Focaccia Genovese is classically eaten at breakfast. They say to plunge it into warm milk or cappuccino to enhance the sweet/salty contrast.

More uses of Focaccia Genovese

Cut into small rectangles, this focaccia is a great accompaniment to an appetizer platter, while cut into bigger rectangular slices is perfect for stuffing with cheese or cold meats. Plain or stuffed, it is a wonderful snack for kids and grown-ups. 

How to make Italian Focaccia Genovese-cutting the focaccia

How to keep Focaccia Genovese

The focaccia is sublime fresh out of the oven when the edges are crunchy and the little holes are moist with the oil.

Once cold, after about 1 hour, seal the slices in plastic wrap or put them in a plastic bag so to preserve their fragrance for 2-3 days. Then, just warm it up in the oven.

You can also freeze the slices well wrapped in plastic. Just before eating it, take it out of the freezer and put the slice in the oven (at 350°-390°F/180°-200°C) for about 10-15 minutes. It will come back soft and crunchy as if freshly baked.

I know it might seem like a lot of work. And indeed it takes time. But the result is highly rewarding. I made Focaccia Genovese twice in a month and every time, whoever tried it, said it was the best homemade focaccia ever. Especially if you, like me, prefer crunch over softness. To me, it reminds me of the pizza bianca we have in Rome. Unrivaled. And if you happen to travel to Genova or Liguria, buy the original at the many bakeries that sell it. 

Song of the day:  “It’s Been A Hard Days Night” by The Beatles.

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How to make Italian Focaccia Genovese-focaccia panino

How to Make Italian Focaccia Genovese

  • Author: Nicoletta
  • Category: Pizza, Focaccia
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

How to Make Italian Focaccia Genovese, thin and oily, salty, soft, crunchy. Before the last rise, this focaccia is covered in a brine made of abundant water, salt, and olive oil which makes the focaccia golden and tasty.


Ingredients

Quantity for 1 baking pan (40x30cm/11x17in)
For the dough:

  • 350 g of a strong (bread) flour, divided
  • 150 g flour 00, divided
  • 300 g lukewarm water, divided
  • 8 g fresh baker’s yeast (or 1 heaping tsp active dry yeast) (if letting rest overnight, you can use 5 g fresh yeast)
  • 30 g light extra virgin olive oil or olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 10 g fine sea salt

For the salamoia (brine):

  • 100 ml of water
  • 2 Tbsp e.v.o. oil + a little bit for the top
  • 2 pinches fine sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp coarse salt, for the top

Instructions

For the “biga” (starter):

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add 100 grams of flour (taken from the total of the two flours mixed together), 60 grams of water (taken from the total), and the yeast. Knead until soft, then shape into a ball and with a sharp knife cut the top in a criss-cross pattern.
  2. Cover with a cling film and leave to rise in the oven, turned off, and with the light on, for 1 to 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

For the focaccia dough:

  1. In the bowl where the “biga”, starter is, add the rest of the flour, the rest of the water, the honey. Knead it until all the ingredients are mixed, a few minutes. The dough should stick around the hook.
  2. Then add the oil a little at a time and mix well, about 5 minutes. You can also knead by hand.
  3. Finally add the salt and mix until smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball.
  4. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and leave it in the oven, turned off with the light on, to rise for 3 to 4 hours, or until tripled in volume. (In winter it will take about 4 hours, in the summer 2-3 hours).

At this point, you can use the dough right away, or, to make it more digestible, you can leave the dough in the fridge overnight. In this case, you can use only 5 g of fresh baker’s yeast and leave the dough in the fridge for a minimum of one night to a maximum of 72 hours. When you are ready to use the dough, leave it out covered by a plastic wrap until it reaches room temperature and then proceed as below.

  1. Turn the risen dough upside down on a work surface and form a ball. Let rest 10 minutes.
  2. Roll out the dough slightly with a rolling pin lightly dusted with flour.
  3. Transfer the partially stretched dough into a lightly greased baking pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let rise about 40 minutes.
  4. After that time, stretch the Focaccia Genovese right to the edges of the pan. Cover again with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour. At the end of the elapsed time, the focaccia dough will look well risen and rested. Now it’s time to make the holes!
  5. Sprinkle the surface of the dough and your hands with flour. Using the 3 middle fingers, press them gently but firmly in the dough, starting from the top of the pan and then slowly coming towards you, following an invisible line. If you have long nails you risk to break the dough; in this case, it would be better to use the knuckles.
  6. Afterward, in a measuring cup or jug, add the water, fine sea salt, and olive oil. Stir well until the salt is dissolved. It will look like a huge amount of brine, but this is what makes the Focaccia Genovese. Pour the emulsion on the surface of your focaccia, each hole must be full of brine. At this point, let your focaccia rise for the last time, covered, at room temperature (or in the oven turned off with the light on) for about 1 hour. In the end, the brine will be partially absorbed. Before the oven, add another drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of coarse salt.
  7. Preheat the oven and have one rack at the bottom and one at the top. I had my oven at 420° F convection bake (220° C), but you can also use a regular oven at 450°F (230-240°C). The focaccia needs to bake in the lower rack of the oven first, for about 12 minutes, without opening the door. Each oven is different, so please check it after 12 minutes. You can move the focaccia on the upper rack only when you see that by lifting the focaccia with a spatula the bottom is golden.
  8. Only then, transfer the focaccia to the upper rack, where it will cook for about 10 more minutes. If the top looks golden and crisp, that’s it, your focaccia is ready, take it out. If not, after the 10 minutes, turn on the grill and leave it to broil for 1 more minute, but please check it so it doesn’t burn. Every time you open the oven door, let the steam evaporate a bit before getting too close, it’s really hot!
  9. When you take it out of the oven, brush extra virgin olive oil on top for maximum fragrance. Leave it on a rack to cool just a bit, then cut it.

Notes

The focaccia is delicious fresh out of the oven, when the edges are crunchy and the little holes are moist with the oil.

You can freeze part of the focaccia divided into slices. Just before eating it,  take it out of the freezer and put the slices in the oven (at 350-390F/180-200C) for about 10-15 minutes. It will come back soft and crunchy as if freshly baked.

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How to make Italian Focaccia Genovese-focaccia panino in my hand

More focaccia recipes:

Spring Focaccia with Lemon Asparagus

Focaccia with Cherry Tomatoes and Oregano

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16 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply Paula Montenegro December 24, 2019 at 3:21 am

    Wonderful focaccia recipe! I made it yesterday and it was incredible! The instructions are perfect. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta December 24, 2019 at 10:35 am

      You’re welcome! It’s amazing. Can’t wait to make it again.

  • Avatar
    Reply David December 24, 2019 at 5:26 am

    Mmm, I can just about taste this bread with the pictures. The good olive oil seems key here! Thinking this would be nice alongside some pasta with meat sauce.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta December 26, 2019 at 8:33 am

      Thanks! We usually don’t have it with pasta, but I guess it would work 😉 .

  • Avatar
    Reply Vanessa December 25, 2019 at 10:33 pm

    Bread making has always seemed a little intimidating to me so I love how you have outlined each step so well. Super easy to follow!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta December 26, 2019 at 8:34 am

      Hi! Thanks! Yes, it is not the easiest recipe, but following the steps you are rewarded with a wonderful focaccia!

  • Avatar
    Reply Philip December 27, 2019 at 7:57 am

    I’ve been looking for a great focaccia recipe and this is definitely it! Thanks for sharing.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta December 27, 2019 at 12:16 pm

      You’re welcome! This is a wonderful focaccia, especially if you like the thin and crunchy variety. Hope you love it!

  • Avatar
    Reply Colleen December 27, 2019 at 10:57 am

    Your focaccia looks perfect in every way, Nicoletta! I just want to reach in and grab a slice. Pinning.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta December 27, 2019 at 12:20 pm

      Thank you so much! I would love to have a slice, too, now that they’re all gone! Have to make it soon!

  • Avatar
    Reply Trish December 28, 2019 at 11:53 am

    Thank you for this! I have this plan to get homemade bread started and bake off the next day. Every time I’ve done this it’s been a disaster. I’m trying this method to let it rise in the refrigerator overnight.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 4, 2020 at 12:25 am

      Hi! If you follow the instructions to a T, you are going to enjoy the most amazing focaccia. Hope you love it! And most of all, enjoy the process! Thanks!

  • Avatar
    Reply Katerina January 3, 2020 at 3:33 am

    I have never made foccacia at home but I love the taste of it, and I’d definitely eat it for breakfast! Thanks for sharing these detailed step by step instructions – I’ll give it a go tomorrow. Happy New Year to you both!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 4, 2020 at 12:26 am

      Hello! It is not the easiest recipe, but it is possible and most importantly, amazingly delicious. Have fun! Thank you, Happy New Year to you!

  • Avatar
    Reply malou July 20, 2020 at 10:10 am

    I don’t know what it’s called but the best focaccia I ever made and tasted was one with potato in the dough and cherry tomatoes on top with oregano and EVOO. That was to die for. The thing was soft and light as a feather. I am so addicted to it that I make it at least twice a week. We can’t get enough of it. My recipe has no sugar in it. Just 1 tablespoon salt and a large mashed potato. Do you know what the name of this one is?

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