If you are a fan of New Haven-Style ''Apizza'' then you are going to love this recipe! We all know Connecticut is known for its pizza and this recipe for Focaccia is an easy version of a homestyle New Haven Pizza. This is one of my favorite recipes from Chef Giada De Laurentiis and it's called Focaccia di Recco! It truly reminds me of my family in Italy. This recipe is probably very different from what you know as traditional Italian Focaccia bread. ''In Ancient Rome, panis focacius was a flat bread baked on the hearth. The word is derived from the Latin focus 'hearth, a place for baking'. The first attestation of the word focaccia dates back to the 14th century. Focaccia is sometimes considered to be a variant of pizza in publications outside Italy, although focaccia is left to rise after being flattened, while pizza is baked immediately,'' according to Wikipedia.
Focaccia di Recco means ''cheesy bread'' and named for the citizens of Recco (a region of north-western Italy) who created it during the late 1100's while they found refuge in Liguria's mountainous. While staying there they made a three-layered flatbread with very few ingredients, anything they had on hand such as; flour, water, olive oil, salt, and cheese. It is a ''much thinner, cracker-like version of the bread - and the best part is that it's filled with melty, gooey cheese. It's really like a piece of magic in your mouth! You can top it with flakey salt and honey, or even some lightly dressed arugula,'' according to Giada's website Giadzy, where this wonderful recipe is from. I love to dip my Focaccia in marinara sauce but it is so good that you can have it without.
2/3 - 3/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse or flake salt
honey or arugula to top with (optional)
marinara sauce for dipping
10 ounces rindless Taleggio Cheese *** If Taleggio is difficult to find, you can replace it with any other very soft, ripened cheese, like camembert or brie. Taleggio is most traditionally used, but you can really use any of your favorite soft cheeses for your own personal spin on the recipe.
*Cooks note: Brie or Camembert can also be used with the rind removed. Combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl and form a well. Add 2/3 cup water and 1 tablespoon olive oil to the center of well. Using your hands, begin to mix the flour into the water. Continue this until a rough dough is formed adding more water if the dough feel dry.
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for 6 to 7 minutes or until a soft, supple dough is formed. It will be slightly tacky but not sticky. The dough should spring back when pressed with a finger. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for an hour. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Lightly grease a half sheet pan with olive oil and sprinkle with corn meal. Set aside.
Cut the dough in half, and begin working with one of the halves. On a lightly floured surface, press the dough into a rough rectangle. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to almost the size of the sheet pan. Pick up the dough and using the backs of your hands, stretch the dough until very thin. Gently drape the dough over the edges of the sheet tray. Continue to pull the dough until the edges drape over all sides of the tray and the dough is stretched tight like a membrane. If the dough tears at any point, you can pinch it back together to patch it back up.
Break apart the cheese into small pieces, and scatter evenly over the dough. Proceed with the next half of the dough, following the same steps as above to cover the bottom layer and the cheese. Once draped over the edges, press the dough together on the edges of the pan. Use the rolling pin to roll over the edge of the pan to completely seal the dough. Use your fingers to release the dough from the edge of the pan. The seal should still be thin, not a thick crust.
Gently tear 3 small holes down the center of the top layer of dough to allow steam to escape. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with half of the salt. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and bubbled on the top. Remove to a cutting board and cut into 8 pieces. Serve as is, or drizzled with honey or topped with an arugula salad.