Black pepper focaccia was a real surprise. It’s hard to believe that something so simple can turn out sooo incredibly tasty.
There’s nothing quite like the aroma of freshly baked bread coming from the kitchen. And when it comes to homemade bread, nothing beats the rustic charm and spicy flavors of a black pepper focaccia.
With just a few simple ingredients, you can bake your delicious black pepper focaccia. This focaccia, with its spicy kick and crispy crust, is a pure pleasure to eat. So, roll up your sleeves, and let’s dive into this flavorful journey to focaccia heaven!
Black pepper focaccia, the ancient culinary joy
When it comes to cuisine, there are few countries that can rival the reputation of Italy. From traditional pasta to mouthwatering pizzas, caprese empanadas and delightful porcini risottos, Italian food has captured the hearts and stomachs of people worldwide.
Focaccia, as we know it today, was born in the Liguria region of Italy. Liguria is a coastal region located in the northwest of Italy, and it is known for its stunning landscapes and traditional cuisine.
The origins of focaccia are not clear, and there is no single person credited with inventing this flatbread. However, one of the most common theories is that focaccia was invented by the Etruscans, who were known for their advanced agricultural practices and bread-making techniques. Besides that, it is commonly believed that the recipe for focaccia originated in ancient Greece and was later adopted by the Romans.
Another theory is that focaccia was created by Roman soldiers who used it as a substitute for their daily bread rations. Focaccia is derived from the Latin term “panis focacius,” which translates to “hearth bread.” This name reflects the bread’s ancient Roman origins and its unique preparation method, where it was baked directly on the hearth or fireplace.
Some people also believe that focaccia was invented by Genoese sailors who added herbs and oil to the bread to make it more flavorful and preserve it for longer periods of time.
However, when focaccia spread throughout Italy, regional variations of the bread emerged. In some regions, it was topped with tomatoes, olives, or cheese, while in others, it was served plain. Each variation of focaccia reflected the unique culinary traditions of the region where it was made.
The first recorded use of black pepper in culinary dishes dates back to ancient Rome, where it was considered a luxury spice and used to enhance the flavor of many different types of foods.
The addition of black pepper to this already delicious bread was another delicious move. Black pepper added a truly enjoyable spicy kick, and it perfectly complemented the rich flavors of the bread.
Why might a black pepper focaccia put a spell on you?
- If you love things to get a little bit spicy, this black pepper focaccia might become your favorite bread. It will turn out better than the one from the store, especially if you’ll use good cold-pressed olive oil and freshly cracked black pepper.
- It’s not hard to make it. You just need to follow the recipe closely, and the result will be the best and the spiciest focaccia you have ever tried.
- It’s easier to make and quicker to bake than the usual bread. Focaccia is a well-welcome change that looks gorgeous and also has a much richer taste. Moreover, making this focaccia for breakfast is really simple. You can prepare the dough the night before and just bake it in the morning.
- Black pepper has the ability to aid in digestion. It contains a compound called piperine, which helps stimulate the production of digestive enzymes and improves gut health. Besides that, black pepper is also rich in antioxidants and has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Focaccia was known to be the food of the poor. It takes just five simple and very cheap ingredients to make it.
Black pepper focaccia ingredients
FLOUR – the type of flour traditionally used for making focaccia is a high-protein, finely milled flour called “00” flour. This is because all-purpose flour has a lower protein content compared to 00 flour, which affects the gluten development and structure of the bread.
However, your focaccia won’t turn out bad even if you use all-purpose flour as a substitute if 00 flour is not available. Focaccia made with all-purpose flour may be softer and less chewy than those made with 00 flour. This can also be a matter of personal preference; there are people who prefer the texture of focaccia made with all-purpose flour.
YEAST – We used active dry yeast in this recipe. Dry yeast is less susceptible to temperature fluctuations and other environmental factors that can affect the performance of fresh yeast, making it a more forgiving choice for novice bakers.
Nevertheless, fresh yeast was traditionally used to make focaccia. If you have fresh yeast at home, we recommend you use it.
OLIVE OIL – There’s quite a lot of oil in the focaccia, and it does severely affect its taste. If you want to make the focaccia more often, stocking up with organic cold-pressed olive oil is not a bad idea. Good olive oil will definitely give the focaccia a very special flavor.
BLACK PEPPER – I prefer using buying whole black pepper instead of the one in the powder form. Freshly ground or cracked pepper will add so much taste and smell to the dough that it’s almost incomparable with the focaccia made with powdered or already cracked pepper from the store. A small coffee grinder or, even better, a mortar and a pestle will do the job perfectly.
SALT – You will need a teaspoon of fine salt for the dough and coarse sea salt for the crust.
How to make the black pepper focaccia
MAKE THE DOUGH
STEP 1: In a bowl, mix together the flour, dry yeast and a pinch of salt. Warm three dl (1,3 cup) of water to a few degrees more than room temperature and add it to the bowl together with three tablespoons of olive oil. Stir it all together thoroughly using a spoon until you get a very soft and sticky dough.
STEP 2: Sprinkle a clean, flat surface with a handful of flour. Reload the dough from the bowl to the flour and knead it for at least 10 minutes to get a moist, stretchy, smooth ball of dough. If the dough is somewhat sticky, that’s perfectly ok. If needed, keep adding a little bit of flour to prevent the dough from sticking to the counter.
STEP 3: Depending on the time you have, keep the dough in a covered bowl and let it rest in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours. The longer you keep it in the fridge, the better it will get. We kept our dough in the refrigerator overnight, and the focaccia tasted much better than the ones made with fresh dough.
However, don’t have the time to wait for a whole day or more, cover the bowl with foil or a clean cloth and let it rest for about 1 hour until it rises at least double in size.
BRING IN THE BLACK PEPPER
STEP 4: In the meantime, prepare the pepper. Focaccia will taste much spicier and will truly be fully saturated with the pepper aroma if you crack your pepper right before adding it to the dough. For that, you can use a simple coffee grinder or a small mortar and pestle.
We used a huge African mortar that we brought home from one of our trips to Africa, and it has so many times proved to be a great tool.
When the dough has risen (or rested in the refrigerator), transfer it again to a clean surface on the counter, previously sprinkled with a bit of flour.
Make a well in the middle where you will sip in the pepper. Knead again until all the pepper is evenly fused all over the dough.
STEP 6: Now reload the dough into a 9-inch round pan, springform pan or a smaller square pan previously greased with olive oil. Don’t spare the oil; it’s the oil that will give your focaccia that crunchy crust.
Press the dough to the bottom of the pan and make sure you push it with your hands all the way to the edge of the pan. The dough should be about 2 cm thick. Cover it with the foil or a clean cloth and let it rest again for 45 minutes.
BAKE THE FOCACCIA
STEP 7: When the dough has risen, use a bowl of warm water into which you will stick your fingers before pushing down the dough and creating small wells on the surface of your focaccia.
STEP 7: Using your hand or a brush, generously cover the surface of the focaccia with olive oil. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and the leftover black pepper.
BAKE THE FOCACCIA
STEP 8: Bake at 230 °C/446 F for about 15-20 minutes until your focaccia starts looking golden.
STEP 9: Let the focaccia cool for about 15 minutes before wrapping it in a clean cloth to soften the crust. Enjoy:)
Food nutter’s tips for perfect focaccia
If you want thinner and rectangular-shaped focaccia, use a rectangular or square baking tray. The dough should be about 2 cm high before resting and rising.
If you want holes in the bread to be visible, use protein-high flour and make sure that the dough is wet enough when going to the oven. When using all-purpose flour, the focaccia will be more fluffy when baked.
The longer you rest the dough, the better the focaccia will get. Resting the dough for 24 hours allows for full gluten development, deepening of flavors, and easier handling during shaping. It results in a light and airy texture with a crispy crust when the focaccia is baked. A shorter resting time of 12 hours is sufficient if you plan to bake the focaccia the next day, while a longer resting time of up to 24 hours will result in a more pronounced flavor and lighter texture.
If you don’t like your focaccia to be so spicy, reduce the amount of black pepper in the dough. You can top (it once covered with olive oil) with additional herbs like rosemary, oregano, anise or small pieces of onions, garlic, tomatoes, olives etc., before baking the focaccia.
Do not skip or shorten the kneading part to ensure your focaccia bakes perfectly. Each time knead the bread very thoroughly and for at least 15 minutes. Kneading the dough helps to develop its gluten structure, which gives it elasticity and helps it hold its shape. It also helps to distribute ingredients evenly throughout the dough and ensures even rising and baking.
Store the black pepper focaccia in a paper bag or wrapped in a cloth for up to two days.
You can store your focaccia in the freezer, packed in an airtight or ziplock bag for up to three months. When you’re ready to eat the focaccia, simply remove it from the freezer and allow it to thaw at room temperature for a few hours. You can also reheat the frozen bread in the oven or toaster for a crispier crust.
Black pepper focaccia FAQs
Foccacia made by this recipe contains a lot more pepper than the Panera focaccia. You can reduce the amount of black pepper if you don’t like your focaccia to be that spicy.
Black pepper focaccia is a soft and fluffy flatbread flavored with black pepper, while artisan ciabatta is a chewy and rustic bread made using very slow, traditional techniques. It is made with a wet dough left to rise slowly, giving it its characteristic holes and irregular shape.
Bread is a staple food with a dense texture, made from dough that is typically leavened with yeast or sourdough culture. It has a dense and chewy texture and can be made in a variety of shapes and sizes. Focaccia is a softer and fluffier Italian flatbread that is typically baked in a sheet pan or on a baking stone. It has a softer and fluffier texture than bread and is often flavored with olive oil, herbs, and salt.
While both focaccia and pizza are Italian bread-based dishes, focaccia has a softer and fluffier texture and is often served as a side dish or a snack, while pizza has a thin crust and is topped with tomato sauce, cheese, and various toppings, and is typically served as a main course.
While black pepper is generally safe and beneficial when consumed in moderation, consuming excessive amounts may cause gastrointestinal problems and other health issues, especially in individuals who have underlying health conditions.
Black pepper focaccia is typically made with flour, water, yeast, salt, olive oil and cracked black pepper, which are all vegan-friendly ingredients. However, some recipes may include non-vegan ingredients such as milk or butter, so checking the ingredients list or recipe is important to ensure it’s vegan.
Black pepper focaccia bread can be found at various places such as bakeries, grocery stores, online food retailers and specialty food stores.
Lower-quality black pepper may have been harvested early or may have been exposed to moisture, causing it to lose its pungency. This can result in a less spicy taste. Also, storage at high temperatures, moisture, and the age of black pepper can affect its spiciness. Generally, whole black pepper seeds retain their flavor and spiciness for longer than pre-ground pepper.
White pepper and black pepper both come from the same plant. Black pepper is made from the unripe green berries of the Piper nigrum plant, which are cooked and then dried, resulting in their dark color. On the other hand, white pepper is made from fully ripe berries that have had their outer layer removed through soaking, rubbing, and other processing methods.
Other recipes from the Food nutters
Black pepper focaccia
- 400 g (3,2 cups) flour
- 1 packet (16g) active dry yeast
- 8 tbsp organic cold-pressed olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 packet (15g) whole black pepper
- 1 tbsp coarse sea salt
- 3 dcl (1,3 cups) warm water
- In a bowl, mix together the flour, dry yeast and a pinch of salt. Add 1,3 cups (3 dl) of luke warm water. Stir thouroghly until getting a soft and sticky dough ball.
- Transfer the dought to a flat, clean surface (sprinkled wih flour). Knead for 10 minutes to get a strecthy, smooth and somewhat sticky ball of dough. Place the dough in the bowl, cover with a plastic foil or a clean cloth and let it rest for one hour. Ideally, leave the dough to rest in the refrigerator for up to 12-24 hours.
- If you are using whole black pepper, grind it using a coffee grinder or a small mortar and pestle. Preheat the oven to 230 °C/446 F.
- When the dough has risen, make a well in the ball and sip in the black pepper. Knead until the black pepper is perfectly and evenly fused in the dough.
- Place the dough in a round pan, springform pan or a smaller square baking tray (previously greased with olive oil). The dough should be about 2 cm thick, make sure you push it all the way to the edges. Let it rest for another 35 minutes.
- When the dough has risen, prepare a bowl of warm water into which you will stick your fingers. Create several wells using your wet fingers on the surface of the focaccia.
- Using a brush, cover the surface of focaccia with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse sea salt and the remains of black pepper.
- Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes at 230 °C/446 F until focaccia gets a golden color. When baked, let it rest for 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy 🙂
- To make thinner and rectangular-shaped focaccia, you can use a rectangular or square baking tray and allow the dough to be about 2 cm high before resting and rising.
- For more visible holes in the bread, use protein-high flour and ensure that the dough is wet enough. If all-purpose flour is used, the focaccia will have a more fluffy texture when baked.
- To ensure a perfect bake, do not skip or shorten the kneading process. Kneading the dough thoroughly for at least 15 minutes helps to develop the gluten structure, which gives the focaccia elasticity and allows it to hold its shape. It also helps to evenly distribute the ingredients throughout the dough, ensuring even rising and baking.
- Resting the dough for a longer period of time will result in a better-tasting focaccia with a light and airy texture and crispy crust. A resting time of 24 hours allows for full gluten development, deepening of flavors, and easier shaping. A resting time of 12 hours is sufficient if the focaccia is baked the next day, while a longer resting time of up to 24 hours results in a more pronounced flavor and lighter texture.
- To reduce the spiciness of the focaccia, you can adjust the amount of black pepper used in the dough.
- Before baking, you can top the dough with additional herbs, such as rosemary, oregano, anise, or small pieces of onion, garlic, tomatoes, olives, etc.
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