Ligurian focaccia is crunchy on the outside and soft inside with a satisfying amount of salt and olive oil! You’ll find it’s hard to stop at just one slice!
Don’t be put off by the time required to make this recipe. The majority is resting and rising time. Actual hands on time is just 30 minutes.
Why you’ll love this recipe
Ligurian focaccia is salty and moist with olive oil but not oily. In fact, this recipe is buttery, soft and crunchy all at the same time.
When you put a knife through this bread and hear the crunch of the crust, you’ll know you’ve done the right thing making this recipe. But once you bite into the crispy crust and then into the tender bread inside, only then will you really understand what it is to eat Ligurian focaccia.
This recipe uses a high hydration dough. That means higher water ratio to flour. It can be hard to handle because is it quite wet. However the benefits of this dough the moist, light and soft crumb.
This dough is not kneaded but stretched and folded instead. A new technique perhaps, but it takes the hard work of kneading out of bread making.
What is Ligurian focaccia?
Focaccia is an Italian bread with minimal toppings and is often served as part of a meal. This focaccia is from the north western region of Italy called Liguria. While the region is well known for nut free pesto, this bread is eaten by locals all day long.
The key flavor in Ligurian focaccia is olive oil. Liguria produces some of the best olive oil in Italy – a delicate olive oil. So for an ideal Ligurian focaccia be sure to use fresh, mild tasting oil.
But the biggest difference with this focaccia from Liguria is the brine which is poured over the dough before the final rise. This brine settles into the dimples and around the edges creating salty pops of flavor and a golden, crunchy exterior.
Ligurian focaccia is known as fugassa in the local dialect and is enjoyed dipped in coffee for breakfast, as a snack and alongside lunch and dinner. Usually around ¾ inch or 2 cm in thickness, this special bread that is becoming popular everywhere.
While the long fermentation produces excellent flavor, if you don’t have that much time try my Focaccia Genovese.
For complete ingredient quantities and full instructions, please scroll to the printable recipe card bottom of the page.
The ingredients needed for Ligurian focaccia are similar to many bread recipes with just a few of exceptions.
- All purpose flour – usually I would use strong bread flour however this recipe works perfectly with the softness of all purpose (plain) unbleached flour.
- Extra virgin olive oil – olive oil is one of the key flavors and is used in almost all the steps in this recipe so it is important to choose a good olive oil that is not too bitter. Don’t be worried about using so much oil. A mild tasting oil is perfect and the result is almost buttery.
- Salt – pure salt flakes are my choice for this recipe. If you use a fine salt, reduce the amount of salt in this recipe slightly.
Begin this recipe the night before baking.
Prepare the dough
- Dissolve yeast in warm water and honey.
- Whisk flour and salt to combine well.
- Add yeast mixture and oil to flour.
- Combine ingredients then rest the dough for 15 minutes.
- Scrap and fold dough to strengthen.
- Turn out onto work surface.
Fold and rise overnight
- Stretch and fold dough across from side to side
- Fold dough up and over itself
- Then fold down and over itself
- Place the folded dough ball into large, oiled bowl
- Rise at room temperature for 12-14 hours
- Gently scrape out onto well oiled pan and repeat folding
Prepare to bake
- Lift and stretch to fit pan
- It may not completely stretch
- Allow to rest, stretching dough if it has shrunk back
- Make deep dimples with fingers
- Pour over brine and rise again before baking
- After baking brush with abundant extra virgin olive oil
Tips for success and FAQ’s
For the best Ligurian focaccia it is important use good, mild tasting olive oil and not to skimp on it. Use it liberally!
Also, the dough will be wet and you may not be used to that. Don’t add more flour. Just stretch and fold as best as you can. Use plenty of oil on your hands to assist you. It’s actually lots of fun!!
Be sure to choose the correct pan. Use the measurement provided to make a perfect focaccia that is just the right thickness. If you haven’t got the correct size pan, look for something slightly smaller.
After baking, it is crucial to remove the focaccia from the pan and onto a wire rack to cool. This prevents the bottom becoming soggy and losing it’s crunch.
It could be that the yeast was not fresh. In that case, there’s not a lot you can do but start again with fresh yeast. The unrisen dough can be rolled out very thin and baked as crackers.
Another issue could be that your kitchen may be particularly chilly. The dough may be rising but VERY slowly. To fix this, move the dough to a warm place. Try putting it in the turned off oven with a bowl of hot water – the steam and warmth will active that yeast.
The brine creates a crunchy, golden exterior because the water evaporates leaving just the salt.
While this is not a sourdough focaccia, it is easy to convert. Simply add 1 cup of sourdough starter to the initial dough and reduce the flour and water accordingly. Usually that would be reducing by ½ cup each of flour and water for a 50/50 sourdough starter.
You can store this Ligurian focaccia in an airtight container for a day or two. Alternatively freeze by wrapping well in plastic wrap and then in a zip lock bag. Either way the crunch will be gone but see below for reheating and “recrunching”.
Reheat by toasting or in a preheated oven. It will never be the same but it will still be really good. Never reheat in the microwave!
Ligurian focaccia is such a versatile bread.
- cut it into fingers and serve with a dip or spread
- add it to your charcuterie board
- include this bread on your buffet table
- slice it in half and toast for a delicious breakfast
- fill with salami and cheese
Eat this bread with meals or slice in half and fill as a sandwich. Which ever way you use it, you will be making this your go-to focaccia recipe.
Recipes that go with this focaccia
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Ligurian Focaccia Recipe
- 15in x 10in (38cm x 25cm) heavy baking pan
For the dough
- ½ teaspoons active dried yeast
- 1¾ cups (375 grams) lukewarm water
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 4 cups (500 grams) all purpose (plain) flour
- 2½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons pure salt flakes
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil extra – as needed
- extra salt flakes for sprinkling on top
For the brine
- ¼ cup lukewarm water
- 1 teaspoon pure salt flakes
- In a jug or small bowl mix together warm water, honey and yeast. Stir until dissolved.
- In a large bowl whisk together flour and salt then add the yeast mixture and the olive oil. Stir with a rubber spatula to combine all the ingredients. Scrape the side of the bowl clean.
- Cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, uncover dough. Press the rubber spatula down between the dough and the side of the bowl. Using the spatula, lift the dough and fold it onto itself as if you are picking up the bottom of the dough and folding it over the top of the dough. Continue around the edge of the dough, lifting and folding. The dough become smooth.
- Oil a work surface with a little extra virgin olive oil and gently tip out the dough scraping the bowl as best as you can.
- Oil the bowl ready for the return of the dough.
- Press out gently to flatten slightly to degas a little. Pick up one side of the dough stretch it and fold it over to the other side. Repeat on all sides.
- Return the dough to the now oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for 12-14 hours or overnight.
- The next day:- Spread 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil onto baking pan with sides.
- Tip the dough gently onto the oiled 15in x 10in (38cm x 25cm) baking pan and repeat the folding as previously explained.
- Gently stretch the dough to fit the pan. You will need to place your hands under the dough and stretch it. Don't worry if it doesn't fully stretch to fit. Set aside for 30 minutes. During the time you'll be able to stretch it out to fit.
- After 30 minutes, make indentations with your fingers into the dough. Press in at an angle. Then mix together brine ingredients until salt is dissolved. Pour over dimpled dough. Allow to proof for 1 hour until puffy and bubbly.
- In the meantime preheat oven to 450°F (235°C).
- Sprinkle with flaky salt and bake on the centre rack for 20 minutes. Then move to the upper rack and bake for another 5-7 minutes until the top is golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and immediately turn onto a wire rack. Drizzle or brush 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over the baked focaccia. Don't worry if it pools in the dimples, the oil will gradually soak into the bread.
- Serve warm or at room temperature cut into large squares.
- Use lots of good, mild tasting olive oil
- Allow time to rise
- Don’t add more flour. Just stretch and fold as best as you can. Use plenty of oil on your hands to assist you.