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History In Every Bite: The Timeless Appeal Of Focaccia Bread

by Unknown | Dec 08, 2023

Submitted by Leemah Kuku, grade 11 student at GFESS

Focaccia bread, a delicious Italian bread that has captured many foodies worldwide, has a rich history that dates back to the Roman Empire. The word “focaccia” originates from the Latin word “focus,” meaning “hearth” or “fireplace.” This is apt, as the bread was originally baked on the hearth of a fireplace, giving it a crispy crust and a soft interior.

The Roman style of focaccia is called “panis focaccias.” This bread was made with simple ingredients such as flour, water, salt, and sometimes yeast and was baked on a stone or in a wood-fired oven.

Over time, focaccia bread evolved and became more sophisticated. Adding olive oil, herbs, and spices gave the bread a unique flavour and aroma. The bread became a canvas for artistic expression, with bakers creating intricate designs and patterns on the crusts using additions like onions and sun-dried tomatoes like we use in the Pomegranate Restaurant.

One of the critical ingredients in focaccia bread is all-purpose flour. This flour provides the necessary structure and texture to the bread, allowing it to rise and giving it a soft, pillowy interior. All-purpose flour is perfect for the recipe because it is an ingredient you can easily find with the rest of the ingredients at your local grocery store. All-purpose flour has a lower protein content, making the dough more relaxed and easier to shape and ideal for creating a thin, soft crust.

Dry yeast is essential; it helps the bread rise and gives it a light, airy texture. Sugar and salt are also necessary ingredients in focaccia bread. Sugar helps to activate the yeast and provides the bread with a slightly sweet flavour. At the same time, salt enhances the flavour of the other ingredients and adds depth to the bread.

Warm water is another crucial ingredient in focaccia bread; it helps to activate the yeast and gives the bread a light, airy texture. Onions and sun-dried tomatoes can add flavour to the bread, while basil and oregano provide a fragrant aroma. A lot of olive oil is key in making focaccia bread. It gives the bread a rich, savoury flavour and helps to create a crispy crust. Cornmeal is often added to the dough, providing a slightly crunchy texture and helping create a golden-brown crust. It also helps strengthen the dough’s gluten, making the bread more durable and less likely to tear.

Finally, it is essential to remember the importance of time and patience when making focaccia bread. Allowing the dough to rise slowly and naturally helps to develop the flavours and textures of the bread, resulting in a delicious and satisfying result.

Now that we have covered the ingredients of focaccia bread and why they are all critical, we wanted to share the GFESS Pomegranate Restaurant’s special recipe for focaccia bread.

Focaccia Bread

Yield: 1130 gr dough

525 grams all-purpose flour
15   grams dry yeast
15   gramssugar
10   gramssalt
325 millilitreswarm water
1 Small onion, finely chopped  
30   gramssun-dried tomatoes
0.25 tablespoonbasil and oregano
 10  millilitresolive oil  
 5  gramscornmeal


Step 1: Measure Your Ingredients. Ensure you have all of your ingredients measured and ready to go.

Step 2: Mix the Dough. Place the flour in a big mixing bowl. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water. Stir it up well so it is all dissolved and frothy. Add that mixture to the flour, chopped onion, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, oregano, and half the salt. Mix it all up with a dough hook (you can use a stand or hand mixer, whichever you prefer) until it is all combined. Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl so everything gets mixed in evenly.

Step 3: Now, it is time to knead that dough! You can do this by hand or with a stand mixer. If you do it by hand, just flour your hands and knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. If you are using a stand mixer, use the dough hook attachment and knead for 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Step 4: Let the Dough Rise. Place the dough in a lightly oiled tray and dust it with cornmeal. This will help it rise nicely and evenly. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it sit in a warm, draft-free place for an hour until it is all puffed up and risen.

Step 5: Bake the Bread. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Bake the focaccia bread for 20-25 minutes until it is all golden brown and delicious. You will know it is done when it is all puffed up and sounds hollow when you tap on it. Now that you’ve made your focaccia bread, you can eat it alone, cut it in half to make a sandwich, or top it with cheese and tomatoes and have it as a pizza. The sky is the limit with focaccia.

Chef’s suggestion: top with paprika, rosemary, fresh thyme, kosher salt, basil leaves, and olive oil for more flavour, and decorate to your liking. The dough serves a family of four and lasts three days.

Focaccia bread is special in Italian cuisine and is often considered the precursor to pizza. The first pizzas were focaccia bread topped with cheese, tomato sauce, and various types of meat. Over time, pizza evolved into a distinct dish, but focaccia bread remains a beloved staple in Italian cuisine.

Thank you for reading my article. My name is Leemah Kuku, and I am a grade 11 student at GFESS. Writing this article was exciting and nerve-wracking because my work would be featured in the newspaper. I spent the first few days staring at my laptop, but the words flew out once I had my inspiration. Writing this article about focaccia bread was very interesting because while doing my research, I learned so much about it and its history, making it very special.


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