For the Love of Focaccia
Focaccia. I love it when it is served as a side to my dinner, warmed in the oven and as a result, all edges are slightly crispy. I rip it in half, and dip the soft side into the sauce and those little bubbles in the bread just soak up all the flavour. But this bread doesn’t just absorb the flavour of the sauce- it enhances it. It might be the salt on the bread. Maybe it’s the delicate olive oil taste. Either way, there is something irresistible about Focaccia that makes every meal better.
COBS Bread’s Head Baker, David, has launched a recipe with all COBS Bread bakeries that he has worked to master for years. David first made Focaccia over 15 years ago for some friends of his from Italy who had mentioned they hadn’t had Focaccia in a long time. They tasted it, and the look from their faces- the love, the joy, the memories that came flooding in- “Those looks have stayed with me. It’s with me when I am baking Focaccia in the bakery, and one of the reasons I am so happy to share this bread with our bakeries and our customers.”
In addition to the amoré behind the baking, there are a lot of technical reasons why Focaccia is so unique. We asked David a few questions about the process and how this flatbread obtains the characteristics that make it so special.
Why are there so many tiny bubbles in Focaccia?
David: The tiny bubbles come from extra hydration from oil and water in the dough. These two elements make a softer dough which allows bubbles, which are a byproduct of the fermentation process, to expand.
What does the olive oil in the bread do?
David: Three main things- Flavour! Flavour! Flavour! It also adds to something called “mouth feel” and assists in the “keeping qualities,” which means it helps it stay soft.
What is the purpose of the docking? (Docking is the technique of poking holes in the dough once it is shaped into the Focaccia slab.)
David: Docking helps counteract creating bubbles that are too large and makes the bubbles less irregular overall. Also- here’s the tasty part- it helps the olive oil that is spread on top after docking soak into every corner, nook and cranny of the Focaccia slab.
What else makes Focaccia special?
David: The type of flour that we use to make this bread. We use a kind of bread called “ARW”, which stands for Alberta Red Winter. It’s unique because it is a softer grain which in turn makes the loaves softer and gives them more flavour. It’s responsible for the slight off-white colour of many of our artisan breads. That comes from something called the “ash content”, which means there are more minerals and bran inside the flour.
Check our Meal Ideas for ways to integrate our delicious Focaccia bread into your next meal!