• Saturday, October 24, 2020

Inspired by Italy and Slovenia - Focaccia Pizzettes
By , Founder
May 20, 2020

I had never made bread before this recipe, and it was the gateway drug. I did a lot of research on how I wanted to approach a focaccia, though I had my vision of a thin, almost pizzette presentation with fresh burrata and colorful roasted tomatoes and a second version with green olives. This is not fluffy focaccia; it’s about half the usual height and a little crispier on the top, with just a hint of that traditional focaccia texture in the middle. To me it feels more low-carb-friendly than the big fluffy version, more fun snacking and less carb loading.

I had the best bread in Italy, and top four of my life, when I stayed at Belmond’s Hotel Splendido in Portofino. I think I ate an entire day’s nutritional value just in bread, starting with the lavish spread of olive breads in the morning and continuing with the bread served at every meal. There is just something special about Liguria; it’s as romantic and beautifully picturesque as it comes, and that infinity pool at Splendido is everything. It’s been 10 years since I was there, but I still think about the bread, and this recipe represents it well, though nothing is better than being there in person.  The pizza portion of this recipe is inspired by a trip to Slovenia, where I had a similar dish on a wine estate, Kruh in Vino, which borders Italy. It was one of the first meals I tried to recreate at home with store-bought focaccia from Eataly.  This time though, I'm making that bread from Splendido, just because.  

While I’m gluten-free by choice for the most part, I’m leaving to the real bread makers the task of creating a gluten-free version that’s just as good as the original. I did, though, give the gluten more time to break down by doing a long rise – about 24 hours, 18 of which is in the refrigerator. The result, as you can see from the photos, was some of the most beautiful bread I’ve seen. So in a nutshell, actual active time is relatively easy on this recipe, but it’s a waiting game to give the dough time to do its thing. It’s worth it.

Focaccia Pizzettes

Ingredients

1 package active yeast
1 cup warm water
½ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon mild honey
2 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon fleur de sel

2 9-inch round cake pans

For Toppings

Burrata Tomato Pizzette
½ ball burrata
Approximately 15 roasted grape tomatoes
6-8 whole basil leaves

Green Olive Pizzette
8-10 whole green olives
1 tablespoon rosemary
½ tablespoon thyme
1 whole roasted garlic

Olive oil to drizzle

Fleur de sel to finish

Directions

Cooking Time: 1 hour active, 18 hours on the first rise of yeast, 6 hours on the second rise

In a large bowl, combine the yeast, warm water, and honey. Let sit for about 5 minutes, then add in 1 cup of the flour and ¼ cup of the olive oil, allowing to rest for another 5 minutes. Add the remaining flour, olive oil, and fleur de sel, and bring the dough together until it’s a ball. Transfer to a well-floured surface and knead the bread 15 times. Rinse out your original bowl and dry it well. Add olive oil to the bowl so it’s well-oiled. Transfer the dough to the bowl, and cover with a damp towel. Refrigerate overnight at least 12 hours, preferably 18 if you can swing it and up to a day.

The next day, line your cake pans with parchment paper and spray with an olive-oil based cooking spray. Take the dough from the refrigerator and divide it evenly between the two pans. Place the pans in a warm, dark spot in your kitchen and cover with plastic wrap for another 4, preferably 6, hours.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Take 1 large clove of garlic, removing any excess skins on the outer edges, and cut the top off the garlic bulb, exposing the cloves. Place the garlic on foil and drizzle liberally with olive oil and sea salt. Wrap the foil around the garlic and roast on the middle rack of the oven for 45-50 minutes, until caramelized and tender. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Separately, take about 15 small grape tomatoes in olive oil, sea salt, and basil and roast for 15-20 minutes. Let them cool until ready to use.

The dough is ready when it has extended all the way to the edges of your cake pans. With your fingers, press down to make the dimples on the top of the dough. Spread 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and big flaky sea salt to taste on the top of each focaccia. Add the rosemary, thyme, and green olives on top of only one focaccia. Place both cake pans in the oven for 15-20 minutes, checking at the 15-minute mark. The top should be a little brown but not so crispy that it’s overcooked.

Cool the focaccias on counter for 10 minutes, and then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely.

To top your pizzettes:

For the olive pizzette, place on a round cake stand with the whole garlic on the side. Drizzle with just a smidge of olive oil and serve.

For the tomato burrata version, gently arrange the burrata (it will be runny) over the top of the plain focaccia. Add in the tomatoes and then garnish with whole basil leaves.

This serves 4 as an appetizer, and 2-3 as a main dish.