Traditional Ligurian focaccia (indirect method)

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Traditional Ligurian focaccia recipe with the sponge

I miss some things of my recent past – the one before COVID to be clear – more than others. Mainly those small things that populated my daily life without making noise. 

For example, I miss going shopping in my favorite little shops down the street (I haven’t been out for 48 days now but to throw the garbage). I miss buying what I like most from the greengrocer at the precise moment when I cross the threshold of the shop; I miss looking at the fish counter and peeking if there is something that inspires me. I miss having coffee in my small, narrow, old fashion bar and with the few tables always occupied by the same four old men. I miss queuing at the bakery, inebriated by the scent coming from the arrear, always uncertain till the very last moment on the kind of bread to take home with the inevitable four slices of focaccia. 

Focaccia…. in the last period I discovered how I miss my Ligurian focaccia! It seems an advertisement, but really, every day at home “fresh” oven-baked focaccia was never missing. Actually, Elena  grew up almost exclusively with focaccia. She ate the one left by her brother for breakfast, the one that the baker disloyally used to hand over to her as soon as we crossed the threshold of the bakery (thus irreparably compromising lunch), and the one she used to steal from the kitchen table at apéritif time, in spite of the evening soup. But I wasn’t kidding either: a slice of focaccia, at least, never reached home. The leftover after dinner meals was often an honest night snack, just before bedtime. In short, we missed greasy finger stains on our clothes. 

Traditional Ligurian focaccia recipe with the sponge
Traditional Ligurian focaccia recipe with the sponge

So I started baking Ligurian focaccia at least once a week.

I started with the “quick” recipe, the one you prepare straightforward in about four hours with the so-called “direct method”. You can find it in my post “Genoese Focaccia, the perfect recipe

However, having some time available, you know, I also tried the recipe that Genoese bakers use, the one that involves preparing the sponge the previous evening, the so-called “indirect method”. The sponge is basically a pre-dough made of water, flour and a little yeast, which improves the final product by giving perfume, flavor and digestibility.

The result is magnificent. The focaccia is fragrant, crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. It is just as described in the specification of the Genoese Bakers:

“Once baked, the focaccia will have a hazelnut-colored crust, ivory-white in the holes.

In the lower part it must be rightly greasy, white and golden. It must be two centimeters high on average. The irregular and deep eye with traces of oil. In the upper part there may be some glitter of salt.

The perfume must be fairly intense, with a slight persistence, not having sweet sensations, but slightly bitter aromatic nuances because of extra virgin olive oil. On the palate it is soft, balanced in basic flavors (acid, sweet, salty), never chewy, but crunchy on the surface. A slight bitter sensation, because of the oil, may be slightly perceptible. The feeling of greasiness is clear “.

The doses you find in the recipe are for two 30×40 cm trays (the size of the trays is important because the focaccia must be about 2 cm thick).

The focaccia is excellent, fresh from the oven and lasts from morning to evening. But not further, because the focaccia is ephemeral. So you can freeze the focaccia you think (or hope) not to eat right away. You will need just a few minutes in the hot oven, and it will be fresh again.

So whether it is morning, afternoon, apéritif time or late at night your focaccia will always be within reach!

Here also the VIDEO RECIPE OF FOCACCIA I have published on my IGTV channel!

If you are curious about the origin of the Ligurian focaccia, I refer you to my previous post “Genoese Focaccia, the perfect recipe“, where you will also find a list of the best places where buy the focaccia in Genoa, for when we will be able to move freely and safely again …

Traditional Ligurian focaccia recipe with the sponge
Traditional Ligurian focaccia recipe with the sponge

Here some pictures of the kneading and raising process and in infographic with the timing (as usually I get confused whilst making the recipe :)):

Ligurian focaccia traditional recipe with the sponge
All ingredients + sponge
Ligurian focaccia traditional recipe with the sponge
kneading in the bowl
Ligurian focaccia traditional recipe with the sponge
Kneading on the working surface 4 hands 🙂
Ligurian focaccia traditional recipe with the sponge
After kneading 15 min
Ligurian focaccia traditional recipe with the sponge
After the fold
Ligurian focaccia traditional recipe with the sponge
First raising
Ligurian focaccia traditional recipe with the sponge
Second raising
Ligurian focaccia traditional recipe with the sponge
Third raising
Ligurian focaccia traditional recipe with the sponge
Fourth raising

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Ciao! I’m Enrica

a home cook, food researcher and experience curator born and bred in Liguria.
I study, tell, cook, share and teach Ligurian cuisine and the culture surrounding it.
Here we celebrate Liguria’s gastronomic diversity and richness through its recipes, producers, traditions and shops.

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