Papa Juan’s Focaccia

It was a staple of every weekend; my dad would go to the supermarket very early in the morning to buy the week’s groceries. On his way back home he would stop by a local Italian bakery where he would get warm, freshly-baked bread. To treat us, he would always bring some focaccia bread topped with onions to eat as an appetizer right before lunch. Being only a kid, I used to remove the onions on top of my bread not knowing I was missing out. As I grew older (and I guess wiser), I started enjoying those lovely, crunchy and – at times –  lightly burnt onions. So, I had to try to make my own. This is a very standard focaccia bread recipe. I made it my own by adding some peppers which I believe add a beautiful sweet taste to the mix. (Warning: this recipe is heavy on oil).

Ingredients

  • 600 grams of bread flour (I try to use unbleached, but all purpose flours should work just as fine).
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Olive oil.
  • Water
  • 2 tablespoons of instant yeast.
  • 1 large brown onion.
  • 1 large red pepper / capsicum.
  • 1 large yellow pepper / capsicum.
  • Materials: a large cooking dish/pan, parchment paper or foil.

Procedure

  1. Bread:
    • In a small bowl, mix 4 tablespoons of olive oil, a teaspoon of salt and a pinch sugar.
    • In a large bowl mix the flour and yeast. Add 1 ¼ cup of water and the oil mix.
    • Mix and knead until achieving a sticky, moist and elastic dough.
    • Grease a large bowl with some olive oil. With oily hands, roll the dough into a ball and put in the bowl. Cover with some film and let rise up to half its size for about an hour.
  1. Topping:
    • Chop the onion and peppers. You may dice them or make slices (as in julienne), but it’s not necessary for all the pieces to be even.
    • Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a ½ teaspoon of salt.
    • Mix well and set aside (the peppers will release some juice… and that’s nice).

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  1. Baking:
    • Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius.
    • Line a pan or baking dish with lightly greased foil, or preferably parchment paper.
    • Remove the film from your dough bowl. Place the dough ball on your pan and with your (oiled) finger tips expand the dough through the pan (Note: you are not kneading the dough, just expanding it – it should look bumpy).
    • Brush with some extra oil on top.
    • Add the onion and peppers mix and spread them evenly across the dough. Discard the excess juice.
    • Bake for 20-35 minutes (depending on your oven) until the middle to bottom half of the dough is cooked and the topping starts getting crispy brown. (Note: the bread will always be a bit moist on top).
    • Remove from the oven. You can wait for it to cool down and cut with scissors or a bread knife, or serve it while hot.
  1. Plating: You can serve this whichever way you want. I like cutting it into rectangles and storing it in air tight containers, and then reheating them in the oven (because microwaves suck!). These are also a nice savory treat for breakfast. Give it a try!

Enjoy!

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