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Marcella Hazan Focaccia

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This afternoon I decided to try one of Marcella's Focaccia recipes. I haven't done a lot of breads, but everything I've ever made from Marcella's books has come out perfect, so I decided to have a bash.

Her recipe for Focaccia with onion topping (More Classic Italian Cooking, p. 53 in my edition) calls for 3 cups of flour and 1 package of yeast dissolved in 1/2 cup lukewarm water. I followed this exactly, since Marcella insists that you do what she says :-), but the flour was extremely difficult to work with. My wife, who has done some breadmaking, says that she would normally expect 3 cups of flour to use 1 cup of water. Marcella's other bread recipes, in fact, do follow the proportions my wife indicated.

I'm still waiting to see if the thing is going to rise, so I'll let you all know what happens, but my question is this: Is 1/2 cup wrong, or does the texture of Focaccia require this unusual proportion? If 1/2 cup is correct, then I'd say that kneading Focaccia is definitely NOT for beginners.

Many thanks, fellow Chowhounds.

Bruce

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  1. I think you're both right. (Ain't catching me in da middle a dat one!) The recipe, on page 53 of my book also, does show only 3/4 C total water. The 7 T of olive oil should help make up some of the liquid. But for 3 C of flour, I'd use 1 1/4 C water and 1 T olive oil. So, as written, this seems dry. And notice that in the instructions she says to add 1/4 C olive oil, which is only 4 T. More dry. But she says to take your starter ball of dough or biga and knead it with the flour, olive oil, water, and salt. I have a feeling that she expects you to adjust the amount of flour during this step. So you wouldn't knead in more than "feels" right. Or, I guess you could make other adjustments. For focaccia, I think you would want the 7 T of olive oil, as shown in the ingredients list. So, thinking this through, I think I would use the almost 1/2 C of olive oil and just watch the amount of flour I kneaded in. A surprisingly poorly written recipe.