The dimples and crevices of Ligurian focaccia trap olive oil and salt, giving the bread a crunchy and delicious taste and texture.
The ASMR of Ligurian Focaccia
One could fall asleep watching focaccia being prepped for the oven. It is mesmerizing to watch hands and fingers massaging the bubbly dough into peaks and valleys. I relaxed, but now I am also hungry for bread.
What is Focaccia?
Focaccia is the irresistible yeasted flatbread of Italy that is fancy enough to be served in fine dining restaurants yet humble enough to be made at home. The characteristic dimples that are scattered all over the top trap olive oil and salt, adding to the deliciousness.
Can you really make it at home? Yes. But most folks (including myself until recently) wind up with a mediocre focaccia.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. That’s a little brutal. Well, if we are going to take the time, effort, and expense of making bread at home, let’s make sure it is spectacularly good.
And an extra benefit? The visual ASMR.
ASMR, or autonomous sensory meridian response, is a pleasing and relaxing reaction to certain stimuli. I associate it with sounds like ocean waves, rain, and background noise at a favorite coffee shop.
I learned recently that there are six types of ASMR and one is visual. This explains why our brains get tingly while watching things like Bob Ross painting happy little trees on The Joy of Painting. It chills us out.
That satisfying cooking video of hands and fingers dimpling the focaccia dough? It’s visual ASMR and I am here for it.
How to Make Focaccia
My daughter and I recently watched Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat on Netflix and were immediately obsessed. We decided that Samin Nosrat is cool and funny, someone that we would want as a friend. Additionally, the food she was preparing and eating in those episodes—just wow.
The Fat episode featured the foods of Italy and a local baker helped Samin prepare Ligurian focaccia. Normally, focaccia dough is proofed, dimpled, then baked. It is pizza crust’s thicker cousin.
We gasped as the baker poured a small cup of salt water over the dough after dimpling it. What the what. This not-so-common add of briny water before baking gives the finished bread a hit of salt and crispiness that most focaccias lack.
This. This is how to make stellar focaccia!
What happened to Crystelle’s focaccia?
On a side note, what exactly happened to Crystelle Pereira’s focaccia on the 2021 season finale of the Great British Baking Show? It was raw enough that Paul and Prue deemed it inedible. No one, including Crystelle, really knows.
The audio ASMR sound on that: hearts breaking everywhere. She almost won.
- Planning ahead is important to this recipe’s success. I know, our tummy wants it right now. But the dough benefits from an overnight rest.
- This dough has a lot of spring and will try your patience by resisting as you attempt to stretch it to the edges of the pan. Like parenting a twenty-something year old, be patient and give it time to relax.
- I was afraid that pouring the entire one-third cup of salty water on the dough was going to be a disaster. It wasn’t. Do it.
Many thanks go to Samin Nosrat and Salt Fat Acid Heat for leading me down the briny path to the most delicious focaccia in the world.Print
2 ½ cups lukewarm water
½ tsp active dry yeast
2 ½ tsp honey
5 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp kosher salt or 1 Tbsp fine sea salt
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for pan and finishing
Flaky salt for finishing
1 ½ tsp Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt
⅓ cup lukewarm water
- Combine the water, yeast, and honey in a medium bowl. Stir to combine to hydrate the yeast.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Pour in the yeast mixture and the oil. Stir to combine ingredients together.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let sit on the kitchen counter overnight, at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours. The dough will ferment and double in volume.
- The next day, prepare an 18 x 13 rimmed baking sheet by spreading 2 Tablespoons of oil evenly.
- As tempting as it is to punch down the dough, don’t do it. Release the dough from the sides of the bowl and gently fold it in half. Place it on the prepared pan.
- Spread another 2 Tablespoons of oil over the surface of the dough and gently stretch the dough out to fill the pan. It will shrink back, but continue to gently stretch it by placing hands underneath and pulling outwards. Let it rest for a few minutes, then stretch it again until it reaches, or nearly reaches, the edges of the pan.
- Now comes the visual ASMR part: using the first three fingers of each hand, dimple the dough by pressing the finger pads into the dough and sliding them away from you a couple of inches. Continue this along the length and width of the dough.
- In a cup, combine the salt and water to make the brine. Stir until the salt is completely dissolved. Pour the salted water over the dough evenly, filling the dimples. Don’t be afraid. Allow dough to proof for 45 minutes.
- Adjust your oven rack and place it in the center position. Place another 18 x 13 baking sheet upside down on the rack as you preheat the oven to 450 degrees F/235 degrees C.
- Sprinkle dough with flaky salt and place the pan directly on top of the preheated baking sheet. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the bottom crust is golden brown. If the top crust needs browning, move the pan to an upper rack and bake 5 minutes more.
- Remove from the oven and immediately brush 2 Tablespoons of oil all over the surface. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer focaccia out of the pan and onto a wire cooling rack.
- Slice with a serrated knife. Serve warm or at room temperature. You may find it difficult not to eat the whole thing in one sitting.