Mediterranean Cooking

Focaccia with cherry tomatoes and caramelised onions

focaccia cava .png
Cava de Guarda sirviendo.png
Light, fruity and citric, its crisp, fast bubbles are typical of a young wine. On the palate, notes of white flowers and fruits like green apple and pear. Ideal for pairing with all types of aperitivos, salads, light canapés or seafood.
1 Hour 40 minutes
Difficulty
10 people
Vegetarian

This moist Italian bread is characterised by one star ingredient: olive oil. A focaccia should be soft on the inside, crispy on the outside, and aromatic throughout. A traditional flatbread, it is covered with herbs and other ingredients.

Focaccia, as we know it today, features several of the most typical Mediterranean ingredients: the fresh scent of aromatic herbs such as rosemary and thyme, the acidity of tomatoes, and the astringency and balance of olives and olive oil. The recipe brings together several characteristic products of Italian gastronomy and is very similar to pizza, since the only difference between focaccia and pizza dough is the fermentation time and the thickness of the dough.

This is a popular and well-known dish whose recipe has evolved over the centuries; there is no general agreement on its origin. Many legends surround focaccia; according to some, the most basic recipe dates from ancient Etruscan and Greek society. In the 2nd century BC, a recipe existed for aromatic bread known as libum. This was considered an offering to the gods, and is today considered one of the precursors of focaccia. Libum was made from a fermented dough with wholemeal flour, cheese, eggs and honey.

Other theories claim that said that the origin of focaccia can be traced back to Liguria, a region on the north-west coast of the Italian peninsula, where bread moistened with olive oil became popular in the Middle Ages.

These precursor recipes to focaccia evolved over time, and with the discovery of America, for example, came the addition of small tomatoes and other ingredients. As well as its origin, disagreements also exist about how to make it: according to the Italian Food Bloggers' Association, in Puglia alone there are 40 types of focaccia, and in Liguria at least 12 different variations.

Fortunately, the toppings vary according to each person's taste, and our suggestion is a focaccia with cherry tomatoes and caramelised onion to be enjoyed with a Cava de Guarda (more than 9 months of aging).

Ingredients

200 g self-raising flour (plus extra for sprinkling)
300 g plain white flour
7 g dry yeast
10 g sugar
10 g fine salt
350 ml warm water
extra virgin olive oil
For the topping:
3 or 4 bunches of fresh thyme
2 red onions
6 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
30 g fresh thyme
200 g ripe cherry tomatoes
White wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic
Fine salt
30 g Parmesan cheese
1 small goat’s cheese
Sea salt
Black pepper

Instructions

1
Put the two flours and the salt in a large bowl. Form a well in the centre and pour in the warm water, sugar and yeast.
2
Mix the ingredients in the well using a fork and leave to rest for a few minutes until the mixture inside the well starts to foam.
3
Combine all the ingredients to make the dough. This can be done with the help of a dough hook (approximately 10 minutes) or by hand.
4
When all the ingredients have been integrated, knead until you get a smooth and elastic dough (approximately 5 to 10 minutes).
5
Pour the prepared dough into a bowl that has been previously greased with extra virgin olive oil. Sift a little flour over it, cover with a tea towel and leave to rest for 30 minutes in a warm place. It should double in volume. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 220 °C and prepare the focaccia topping.
6
Slice the onions finely and chop half the thyme.
7
Heat two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan and cook the onion and thyme gently for 5 minutes.
8
Add 6 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and let it reduce. Once cooked, leave to cool and set aside.
9
Next, cut the cherry tomatoes in half and chop the remaining thyme. Put them in a bowl with a drizzle each of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, a pinch of sea salt, and a little black pepper. Peel the garlic, cut into slices and add to the bowl. Leave to marinate while preparing the rest of the topping.
10
Chop the goat's cheese and Parmesan cheese to taste and set aside.
11
Once the dough has doubled in size, grease a rectangular tray, approximately 15 x 25 cm and about 3 cm deep. Gently roll out the dough and stretch to fill the tray.
12
Make small indentations in the dough by gently pressing with your fingers, as if you were playing a piano, and then brush the dough with extra virgin olive oil.
13
Spread the caramelised onion and marinated cherry tomato mixture on top of the focaccia. Sprinkle the pieces of cheese on top. Season with black pepper and sea salt and top the focaccia with another drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Leave to rest for a further 20 minutes.
14
Bake the focaccia for 20 minutes until golden brown.

Now it's time to enjoy your Italian flatbread and toast it with a Cava de Guarda (more than 9 months of aging). A simple and versatile recipe that can be easily adapted to all tastes.

Tips

Toppings: Focaccia make it easy to experiment with ingredients. One of the most popular focaccias is with aromatic herbs, salt and extra virgin olive oil. You can also try these ideas: good quality black or green olives; grapes, cherries, oranges, peaches or other seasonal fruits; roasted peppers, baked pumpkin and sliced courgette; and anything else that you want to try.

Baking time: Approximately 20 minutes, but it is important to check on the focaccia during baking and remove from the oven when golden brown. Each oven is different and the baking time may vary from one oven to another.

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