Ligurian Focaccia

I surprised myself when I ordered Samin Nosrat’s cookbook soon after I heard about it. I usually take the wait-and-watch approach, like I did with Ottolenghi. That worked out well for me! I missed out on a few years of fabulous recipes. Maybe I’ve learned my lesson?

No, most likely it was because I happened upon Salt Fat Acid Heat the show on Netflix, that endeared me to Ms. Nosrat so much that I just had to have her book. I’d also like her as a friend, cause she gives great hugs and says “wow” a lot!

The title of this cookbook, which is the 1918 James Beard award winner, among others, is all about using four elements in order to create great food. “Salt, which enhances flavor; Fat, which delivers flavor and generates texture; Acid, which balances flavor; and Heat, which ultimately determines the texture of food.”

Her introduction begins, “Anyone can cook anything and make it delicious.”

When you buy this cookbook, if you haven’t already, read the introduction. It tells the story of how she became an employee of Alice Waters, working at the famous Chez Panisse, after saving money for months in order to dine there. And the rest is history.

In this post, I’m making focaccia the Ligurian way, which Ms. Nosrat learned herself in the first episode of Salt Fat Acid Heat. Oh, and she speaks fluent Italian.

In the episode, she visited olive orchards in Liguria, watched an olive harvest, the pressing of the olives, followed by an olive oil tasting.

Then she met with a focaccia expert, Diego, who walked her through the traditional recipe. This recipe isn’t in the cookbook, but it intrigued me because of a surprise step at the end.

Ideally you’d need some Ligurian olive oil, but I had to substitute what I had opened presently, which is Cortina, from Puglia, Italy.

Ligurian Focaccia
Adapted from Diego with the help of Josey Baker
printable recipe below

For the dough:
2½ cups (600 grams) lukewarm water
½ teaspoon active dry yeast
2½ teaspoons (15 grams) honey
5 1/3 cups (800 grams) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (18 grams) Diamond Crystal Kosher salt or 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
¼ cup (50 grams) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for pan and finishing
Flaky salt for finishing

For the brine:
1½ teaspoons (5 grams) Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt
⅓ cup (80 grams) lukewarm water

In a medium bowl, stir together water, yeast, and honey to dissolve. In a very large bowl, whisk flour and salt together to combine and then add yeast mixture and olive oil.

Stir with a rubber spatula until just incorporated, then scrape the sides of the bowl clean and cover with plastic wrap. Leave out at room temperature to ferment for 12 to 14 hours until at least doubled in volume.

Spread 2 to 3 tablespoons oil evenly onto a 18-by-13 inch (46-by-33 cm) rimmed baking sheet. When dough is ready, use a spatula or your hand to release it from the sides of the bowl and fold it onto itself gently, then pour out onto pan.

Pour an additional 2 tablespoons of olive oil over dough and gently spread across. Gently stretch the dough to the edge of the sheet by placing your hands underneath and pulling outward.

The dough will shrink a bit, so repeat stretching once or twice over the course of 30 minutes to ensure dough remains stretched. Dimple the dough by pressing the pads of your first three fingers in at an angle. Make the brine by stirring together salt and water until salt is dissolved.

Pour the brine over the dough to fill dimples. Proof focaccia for 45 minutes until the dough is light and bubbly.

Thirty minutes into this final proof, adjust rack to center position and preheat oven to 450°F (235°C). If you have a baking stone, place it on rack. Otherwise, invert another sturdy baking sheet and place on rack. Allow to preheat with the oven until very hot, before proceeding with baking.

Sprinkle focaccia with flaky salt. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes directly on top of stone or inverted pan until bottom crust is crisp and golden brown when checked with a metal spatula. To finish browning top crust, place focaccia on upper rack and bake for 5 to 7 minutes more.

Remove from oven and brush or douse with 2 to 3 tablespoons oil over the whole surface (don’t worry if the olive pools in pockets, it will absorb as it sits). Let cool for 5 minutes, then release focaccia from pan with metal spatula and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

To store, wrap in parchment and then keep in an airtight bag or container to preserve texture. Gently toast or reheat any leftover focaccia before serving. Alternatively, wrap tightly to freeze, then defrost and reheat before serving.

This focaccia? Outstanding. It’s like none other I’ve eaten or made myself. It has a crunchy crust, and a soft interior. I was so excited to try the brine, but concerned about the total salt. Not an issue.

And all of the olive oil on this focaccia? It’s just meant to be! I even dip a quick olive oil dip for it. Without balsamic, cause my husband….

I truly can’t get over how good this is. You’ll have to try it…



79 thoughts on “Ligurian Focaccia

  • Mimi, we loved the Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat Netflix series, but I feel a bit dumb because I didn’t know she had a book out. I’m so glad you posted the recipe for her Ligurian Focaccia. It looks yummy. I’ll be making some of this very soon.

    • Oh yeah! It’s a fabulous book, although the focaccia isn’t in it. I hope you do make it. It’s really outstanding. Not like pizza dough with some finger indentations!

  • My nephew gave me the book for Christmas and I love it. I especially like the illustrations. My first recipe was going to be the buttermilk chicken . Your focaccia looks great.

    • It’s a beautiful book. The buttermilk chicken is a great looking recipe. It’s a great concept that she’s put in a book. And did you read her bio? Incredible!

  • It sounds so delicious Mimi! I’ve never tried baking focaccia but I remember very well those I had the chance to try in Recco (Liguria). Now I have to try this recipe!!! It doesn’t look too difficult! Thank you for sharing it!

  • Ohhhhhh my goodness YUM!!! I absolutely love homemade bread, and focaccia is definitely one of my favorites. Your pic are absolutely mouthwatering, I have to try this! Also, I have not heard of this Netfix show! It sounds fabulous, and I am always looking for shows our whole family can enjoy. This sounds right up our alley! So excited to try your delicious recipe and the show, thanks for the recommendation!

    • You are so welcome! She show is fabulous because she is so adorable, and although she’s been in the biz for a long time, she shows her passion for loving to learn more about food and cooking.

      • Update!! First, my four year old daughter and I made your AMAZING focaccia this weekend! We had a fabulous time working the dough together, and going through the whole bread making process. And then we had an even better time eating it! This is one showstopping recipe, thank you so so much!

        And second, thanks again for the show recommendation! We also watched Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat as a family this weekend and fell in love with Samin! I totally agree with you, Samin is so adorable, knowledgable, lovable, and down to earth.

        Thank you again for the show recommendation and this AMAZING recipe!

      • Oh, that makes me so happy! Samin is pretty incredible. I was so impressed reading the bio in the cookbook. The focaccia is crazy good, isn’t it?!! I love that you cook with your daughter. ❤️❤️❤️

    • As the water evaporates, the saltiness is leftover and forms a crunchy crust. It’s amazing. And the inside is still soft. But it’s not overly salty, which you might think…

  • Now this does look good. But, what is the purpose of the brine? Does it help make it crusty?
    It is a must try recipe. I haven’t heard of this book but will keep an eye out for it in the bookstore.
    Thankyou for the recipe. :))

  • A brined focaccia? Now that is different indeed! I love baking, and focaccia holds a special place in my heart. I definitely will be trying this recipe! I bet that long fermentation really adds a ton of flavor. Also, I think your husband and I have pretty similar taste buds. I like to dip my focaccia in olive oil sans the balsamic, too. :-)

    • Boo! No balsamic?!!! You wouldn’t believe how many dishes he’s been served at restaurants that are drizzled to death with balsamic, but there was no mention of it in the menu description. And even when it totally doesn’t belong. I actually left the dough sit for 24 hours longer because i had some kind of “emergency” that kept me from blogging on the following day. But of course the focaccia still worked great. The flavor is incredible, and the brine creates a crust. Outstanding.

      • Actually, I think that what you did only enhances the end result (i.e. letting the dough prove for 24 hours). At least that is what I have learned from a pizza maker who has been in the business for 24 years and with whom I have had occasion to work. He insists on the 24-hour proof. PIzza is not focaccia of course but the fermentation procedure must surely have the same issues/qualities etc.

      • Well it turned out so well, so I might have to do the same thing next time !!! Thank you.

  • I am tempted to buy the book, per your recommendation – interesting step the brining of the focaccia in the end. One of my “tent-baker-friends” told me she does that often in regular sourdough baking, and I was intrigued. Must try that too

    • Interesting! Well I’d never seen that step before. Most of the water poured off the dough – maybe my indentations weren’t deep enough after the last rise, but it still worked great!

  • Fascinating recipe and even though I have made all kinds of bread including sourdough I have never brined it. Thanks for the recipe as it is in my file of “recipes to make”. The book sounds interesting and I probably will add it to my huge collection.

  • Mimi, I’m so crushing on Samin Nosrat! Such a lovely person! I’ve been craving this focaccia since I saw her make it. The brine at the end is brilliant!

    • HAHAHAHAHAHA! I know what you mean! She’s mine! That was a great show, wasn’t it. The brine works so well!

  • I haven’t yet watched the Netflix show but I’ve wanted to. Your description has moved me forward. And the focaccia looks absolutely wonderful. About the only issue I can find with it is this is something I will surely overeat! Oh well! :-)

    • Right. And I’ve been trying to void carbs… But my husband ate pretty much half of it, and I gave the other half away. So that helped! But boy was it incredible.

  • I got this book for Christmas!! I LOVE Samin! And I was curious about the whole brine thing…….it’s as good as Samin says it is? Ok, now I need to get around to making it.

    • Yes, you definitely need to make this. Wow was it good! So glad you got the cookbook. She’s adorable, isn’t she?!!

  • I love making Focaccia! It’s quick and relatively easy with a big pay off! I haven’t yet found MY perfect recipe but this looks marvelous with lots of holes! Now I’m inspired. Love to hear you’re enjoying the book! I loved the series!

  • As you well know, I love myself a good slice of focaccia genovese! Or even two. Or three… Truth is, it’s addictive. I like mine with mozzarella and prosciutto but I don’t think there’s a bad way of serving it. And it’s delicious all by itself, too.

    I gave the Salt Fat Acid Heat cookbook to my niece for Christmas. She said she read it as soon as it arrived in the mail. In one sitting!

    • Well, the additions of mozz and prosciutto are always welcome, but this recipe creates such a unique focaccia that I think you’d be happy with the results. You could always have them on the side! The top crust is so unique! I’m glad your niece enjoyed the cookbook!

    • You definitely have to try it. I’m no focaccia expert, but I’ve eaten quite a few, and this one’s truly unique.

      • Oh goodness, I follow so many. Also on Instagram. I’ll try to make a list for you.

      • I have found a lot of wonderful food bloggers on IG. And food stylists and photographers, which aren’t my things… but I still love looking at pretty photos!

      • You’ll love it. The first advice I ever got was to not post too often. People get sick of you! And it’s true. I post every 6-7 days. Spellcheck. Good photos – they don’t have to be styled, just show the real food. Stories about your new job (congratulations!) would be interesting. I find restaurant work fascinating, but could never do it. Just be yourself.

      • Love in my Oven, Drizzle and Dip, Linger, Stefan gourmet, hummingbird and thyme, cocoa and lavender, Neils healthy meals, memorie de Angelina, cooking on the weekends, Foodtasia

      • Love in my Oven, Drizzle and Dip, Linger, Stefan gourmet, hummingbird and thyme, cocoa and lavender, Neils healthy meals, memorie de Angelina, cooking on the weekends, tasty eats, my French heaven, all that I’m eating, This is how I cook, lavender and thyme, travel gourmet, kitchen riffs, sippity sup, a cookbook collection

      • Love in my Oven, Drizzle and Dip, Linger, Stefan gourmet, hummingbird and thyme, cocoa and lavender, Neils healthy meals, memorie de Angelina, cooking on the weekends, tasty eats, my French heaven, all that I’m eating, This is how I cook,

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