Raisin Focaccia

Almost every time I go to San Francisco, I am tempted to get focaccia from the place with the blue awning in North Beach aka Liguria Bakery. 

liguria bakery sf

On my most recent attempts in the last few years, I would get hyped up only to be let down by the bakery being closed over the holidays. When my friend Marrisa and I planned to take a day trip to San Francisco over our spring break, getting focaccia was the first thing to do before they ran out for the day.

There’s something so satisfying about being able to satiate a food craving that is exactly as you remember it. The focaccia at Liguria is light and fluffy but still has a slight chew. And of course let’s not forget the olive oil that gets absorbed in the bread leaving a sweet tang. I trekked that bread around for the morning and finally ate it under the cloud-filled sky in Union Square. It was double cloud heaven.

Even though I know I can’t get on the level of Liguria Bakery’s focaccia, I decided to make my own interpretation of this versatile flatbread. Focaccia bread is one of the easiest breads to make. This is partly because there are so few ingredients and also because the dough is quite forgiving. It’s not terribly sticky and comes together without a fuss. Bread making does take some time and patience but it is completely worth it in the end.

raisin focaccia 1

Let’s start with plumping up the raisins. I’m not the biggest fan of raisins but I don’t mind them in breads. But a dry old raisin in bread is not a pleasant experience. It’s kind of like getting disappointed with dried blueberries in blueberry muffins instead of fresh ones.

Pour the boiling water over the raisins and cover with plastic wrap or a plate to keep the steam in.

In the meantime, proof the yeast. See this post for a more in depth explanation and troubleshooting problems with using yeast.

Once the raisins look sufficiently plump, strain them and pat dry. Reserve the leftover liquid and place in a large mixing bowl with the fully proofed yeast, olive oil, salt and 2 1/2 cups of flour. 

Stir, stir, stir until the dough forms a shaggy dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Gradually knead in the raisins until they are evenly distributed throughout the dough.

raisin focaccia 2

There are two rising options for this particular recipe. It can either slowly rise in the fridge overnight or rise for about 2 hours at room temperature. The first one will allow the gluten to develop more and create a chewier more flavorful focaccia. The second one results in a fluffier focaccia. It's all about the texture but either will result in a perfectly fine bread.

After either option, punch down the dough to release the all the air bubbles.  Lightly coat the sheet pan with olive oil. Use just enough so all corners and crevices are covered. Turn out the dough onto the sheet pan. 

Dimple the dough to the shape of the sheet pan using your fingertips to created the dotted effect unique to focaccia. If you find that the dough is resisting your touch, let it sit for another 15 minutes and try again until it’s spread to fit the pan.

dimpling.jpg

Cover the dough with a damp towel and place in a warm place for the second rise.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown in a 400 degree oven. Cut, serve and enjoy.

bread stack_2.jpg
raisin focaccia 3

Stacking is perfectly acceptable too.


Raisin Focaccia

Adapted from Tracy's Raisin Focaccia and Tyler's Fabulous Focaccia

Yields: about 1 half-sized sheet pan (approx. 13” x 18”)

Ingredients

  • 2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast

  • ¼ warm water

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 1 cup raisins

  • 1 cup boiling water

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon salt

  • 3-3½  cups all purpose flour

  • Olive oil for coating the pan

Steps

Place the raisins in a heatproof bowl. Pour boiling water over the raisins and cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a plate to keep the steam in. Let sit for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, proof the yeast.

Once the raisins look sufficiently more plump, strain them and pat dry. Reserve the leftover liquid and place in a large mixing bowl and add the fully proofed yeast, the olive oil, the salt and 2½  cups of the flour. Vigorously stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. Continue to add flour a ¼ cup at a time until the dough becomes shaggy and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Gradually knead in the raisins until they are evenly distributed throughout the dough.

Rising Option 1: Place dough in a lightly oiled ziplock plastic bag. Let rise in the fridge overnight.

Rising Option 2: Place dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap and a damp towel for 2 hours or until doubled in size.

Punch down the dough to release all the air bubbles. Let rest for 15 minute to relax the gluten.

Lightly coat the sheet pan with olive oil. Use just enough so all corners and crevices are covered.

Turn out the dough onto the sheet pan. Dimple the dough to the shape of the sheet pan using your fingertips. If you find that the dough is resisting your touch, let it sit for another 15 minutes and try again until it’s spread to fit the pan. It doesn’t have to completely fit it but there should be no holes in the dough.

Cover the dough with a damp towel and place in a warm place for the second rise, about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Once the dough looks like it has doubled in size in the sheet pan, place the pan in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. If it gets too golden too fast, cover the top with aluminum foil for the rest of the baking time.

Let rest in the pan for 10 minutes and then slide only a cooling rack. Cut into rectangles, squares or triangles. It can be served either warm or room temperature. Store in a airtight bag or container for 2 to 3 days or in the freezer for several months.