There are two basic approaches to focaccia. In Genoa, where focaccia was born, a rich, olive oil infused dough is shaped into a pan, allowed to raise, indented with fingers, covered with more olive oil, then baked at a moderate heat. In Naples, the home of pizza and wonderful brick pizza ovens, many pizzerias create a focaccia that is basically a flat bread made from pizza dough and topped with oil, a splash of tomato sauce and oregano.
Click on our flatbread section for Neapolitan focaccia, and read on for authentic Genovese focaccia. In Tuscany, they call it Schiaciatta (flatten in Italian), and they reserve the name focaccia for the round flat bread. Nothing is easy in Italy.
Using a bread machine, create your basic dough.
1 1/2 cups water
4 TBS olive oil
4 cups bread flour (read our flour page for more)
2 tsp salt
2 tsp dry active yeast
Add the water and olive oil, then cover the liquid with flour . Add the salt (half each in two corners), then make small well in the middle of the flour and add the yeast. Start the dough cycle, which will last for roughly 90 minutes.
Coat an oval or square metal baking dish, roughly 9" x 13" and 2"-3" deep liberally with olive oil.
Take your dough and gently stretch it until it is roughly the shape of you pan, lay it in the pan, and push it into the corners to fit. Giggle the pan back and forth to make sure the bottom of the dough is coated and slides smoothly. Cover and let rest of an hour, or until it has risen by half.
Push down an interesting pattern of indentations using your fingers, coat the top with yet more olive oil to fill the indentations, and bake in a moderately hot brick oven. If your fire is bright and your dome hot, you might want to wait for it to cool down.
Depending on your oven temperature, your focaccia should cook for somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes.