Lisa made focaccia many times onboard Gyatso, or in the case of this photo, at her sister Suze’s apartment in Lagos, Portugal when she and our brother-in-law Jon were visiting us there. She learned how to make it from David’s cousin Sharon of s/v Pelican (formerly), during a stop-over on the Intracoastal Waterway in their hometown of Oriental, North Carolina.
During a wintry, rainy week, Sharon invited Lisa over for an afternoon of bread baking. She taught her how to make focaccia and black bread in the same day — both were delicious!
Just a few weeks later, we were invited to a friends boat for spaghetti dinner, and Lisa decided to try making focaccia for the first time. Armed with Sharon’s recipe and a new baking sheet and large, stainless steal mixing bowl, she set about the task. The results were gobbled up so fast, she considered it a success. It quickly became one of David’s favorite and most-requested food items onboard. This recipe is provided with permission from Sharon [our clarifications in brackets]. For another one of her tasty recipes, see also Pasta e Fagioli.
[In a large stainless steal bowl], combine and let stand until slightly foamy:
2 cups lukewarm water
2 teaspoons [or 1 tablespoon, 1 packet] yeast
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
[Once the yeast is proofed], stir in 2 cups of flour and stir briskly until smooth. Let rise until foamy, if you have time. Add an additional 2 cups flour and 2-3 teaspoons salt, and stir until dough comes away from the side of the bowl and forms a loose ball. It will be sticky. If it seems too sticky, stir in an additional 1/4 to 1/2 cup of flour. [Add a drizzle of olive oil to the bowl and turn dough to cover both sides.] Cover [with a dry towel] and let rise in a warm place until double (30-40 minutes).
Preheat oven to 450-500 degrees F. Oil a large baking sheet [as big as will fit in your galley oven]. Pour the dough onto the baking sheet, carefully scraping it from the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Rub about 1 tablespoon [extra virgin] olive oil over the dough. Poke your fingers in the dough and stretch it to make holes. Brush [or drizzle] the dough with additional olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and [fresh] rosemary. It does not need to rise at this point, but it
wouldn’t hurt if it was left a few minutes.
Place in the oven and reduce the heat to 450 [degrees F]. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm with good-quality olive oil for dipping. (You can also use this dough for pizza and rolls.)