Focaccia – Surprisingly, Not Italian for “Fingers”

Some younger foodwishers may not realize this, but there was a time, before the Internet, when not everyone knew everything about everything. These days, if you’re wondering what “focaccia” means, you Google it, and all is revealed. In case you’re wondering, it comes from the Latin word for “hearth,” but that’s not what pre-Wikipedia Chef John thought.

Nope, I figured focaccia meant, “fingers.” Since the signature characteristic of the bread is the deeply dimpled surface, and those holes are created using well-oiled fingers, it made perfect sense. Plus, fingers starts with an “f,” as does focaccia, which reinforced my brilliant theory. Anyway, now we know.

This is such a fun and versatile bread to make. I went with a simple, but classic rosemary and sea salt topping, but a web search for focaccia will turn up more than just the definition. You'll see dozens of different and delicious toppings with which to accessorize your slab.

A few of my favorites would be chopped olives, caramelized onions, and sliced grapes. You can add pretty much anything to the top when you do the old finger poke, and proceed as demonstrated. Of course, depending on your garnishes, you may have to cook it a little longer, but I’m sure you’ll figure that out. No matter how you customize it, I hope you give this classic flat bread a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 6 large portions:

– Combine:
1 package (.25 oz) active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105 F.)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup semolina flour
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
2 3/4 cups *bread flour (don’t mix in all the flour in this step; reserve about 1/4 cup for the kneading)
*As with all dough recipes, you may need a little less or little more flour. The total weight I added was about 12 oz.
*This will work with just all-purpose flour, but I prefer the bread flour and semolina

– Mix in bowl until a sticky dough forms, then knead with reserved flour and 2 additional tablespoons of olive oil, for about 7-8 minutes, until you have a smooth, elastic, but slightly sticky dough.

– Let rise until doubled, flatten on oiled pan, let rest 15 minutes, drizzle with olive oil, poke dough with finger tips, let rise 45 minutes or until doubled, brush lightly with olive oil, top with more rosemary and sea salt.

– Bake at 475 degrees F. for 14-15 minutes

View the complete recipe