We’d never have guessed it, but everyone harbors a secret desire to become a baker—or at least that’s the way it looks now that we’re all stuck in quarantine. Whether we’re looking for some kitchen therapy or a little carb comfort, flour, yeast and baking powder are flying off the supermarket shelves as Americans take to their kitchens to make their own bread, be it from a neighbor’s sourdough starter or one of the web’s viral recipes (hello, every variety of cinnamon roll).
Here in L.A. we’re lucky to house some of the best bakeries in the country, in addition to some of the best pizza. At the intersection of both? Well, that’s Pizzana’s chef Daniele Uditi, who grew up cooking in his family’s bakery in Caserta, Italy. The pizzaiolo uses a generational starter—transported from his homeland—to make pizza dough in his West Hollywood and Brentwood restaurants, but if you want to learn to bake focaccia like Uditi, who runs it as an occasional special, you won’t even need it. All you’re going to need is a little flour, dried yeast and olive oil to make some of the fluffiest focaccia you’ve ever seen.
You’ll start by making the poolish—fermented dough that gets incorporated with flour to become the final bread—and need about two days, total. With a little patience and very few ingredients, you’ll be baking in no time.
Here’s what you’ll need for the poolish:
- 650 grams of bread flour or all purpose flour (approx. 5 cups)
- 650 grams of water (approx. 5 cups)
- 4 grams of dried yeast (scant 1 teaspoon)
Here’s what you’ll need for the focaccia:
- The entire poolish
- 350 grams of bread flour or all purpose flour (approx. 1.5 cups)
- 30 grams of sea salt (2 tablespoons)
- 20 grams of extra virgin olive oil (approx. 1.3 tablespoons)
- Enough olive oil to coat the pan and the dough (approx. 1 cup)
- Coarse sea salt, to finish
Start by making the poolish:
- Dissolve the yeast in the water and let it rest 8 minutes to activate.
- Add the flour and mix with a spoon until it reaches a creamy consistency.
- Let it rest at room temperature for 1 hour, covered.
- Move it to the refrigerator and let it ferment there, covered, for 8 to 10 hours.
Once your poolish is ready, here’s how to make focaccia:
- In a large bowl, add the flour to the poolish. Start by mixing a little with a spoon, then gradually mix more with your hands.
- Add the salt, stir to thoroughly combine.
- Add the olive oil, stir to thoroughly combine.
- Mix these ingredients together for 8 to 10 minutes.
- Let the mixture rest at room temperature for 30 minutes, covered.
- After 30 minutes, remove the dough from the bowl. Fold the dough four times, grabbing a piece of dough from the outside and pulling it to the center. Let it rest for 15 minutes.
- Repeat the folding every 15 minutes for a total of three reps.
- Let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes, covered.
- Generously oil a half-sheet baking tray and place the dough onto it.
- Wet the dough with more oil and let it proof, covered with plastic, 3 to 4 hours or until it doubles in size.
- Gently dimple the dough with your fingers and add more oil, then sprinkle with coarse sea salt.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 500˚ on the middle rack for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.
And if you’re really feeling creative, you can make focaccia pizza just like Uditi’s family bakery.
Pizzana is open for takeout and delivery at both locations: at 460 N Robertson Blvd in West Hollywood, and at 11712 San Vicente Blvd in Brentwood.
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