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Last weekend, I tried making focaccia for the first time. I tried two recipes at once, the one from The Bread Baker's Apprentice and a traditional Genovese focaccia recipe modified for quick-rise (I got this one from a FOAF).

For both, I tried to massage the olive oil (in the BBA case infused with dried herbs) into the dough before the proofing (that's a word at least one of the recipes said, "massage"). In fact, the oil just sloshed around on the surface, puddled in the dimples, and flowed off the bread into the pan. The time spent proofing and baking was enough for the oil to flow completely off the surface. In both cases, I ended up with a loaf with dry upper crust and greasy soaked lower half.

What was my mistake? How should I have worked the oil into/onto the bread to get a nice result?

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I tried the one from Bread Baker's Apprentice too, and after getting a similar result, just assumed the recipe was insane. Interesting if there is actually a way to get it to work. –  derobert Feb 22 '12 at 22:17
    
I think the problem may be the quick rise. I ferment my BBA Foccacia for 3 days in the fridge, by which time the oil has soaked into the dough. –  ElendilTheTall Nov 3 '12 at 21:12
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4 Answers

I suggest following Simply Recipes' focaccia recipe.

Olive oil is part of the dough and is also used in steps 4 and 5

4 In a large clean bowl, pour in about a tablespoon of oil and put the dough on top of it. Spread the oil all over the dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to rise (in a relatively warm spot or at room temp) for an hour and a half. It should just about double in size.

5 Spread a little olive oil in your baking pan or baking sheet (will make it easier to remove the bread). Place the dough in your baking pans or form it into free-form rounds on a baking sheet. This recipe will do two nice-sized loaves or one big one and a little one. Cover the breads and set aside for another 30 minutes.

And then in step 8:

Once the dough has done its final rise, gently paint the top with olive oil – as much as you want. Then sprinkle the coarse salt on top from about a foot over the bread; this lets the salt spread out better on its way down and helps reduce clumps of salt.

Where you can pour a bit of olive oil into a small bowl and use a brush to spread the oil over the top of the dough.

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No, I already tried brushing it the first time. It just pooled around on the bread and flowed to the pan bottom. I was asking for other directions, because this didn't work. –  rumtscho Mar 18 '12 at 17:15
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When I made it I worked some oil into the dough and then brushed some on top with a pastry brush prior to baking.

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In the real "focaccia genovese" oil is mixed in the dough and added on top of the focaccia.

It is a tricky procedure, there is a video and photo sequence here; unfortunately is in Italian, but you can easily translate it with Google and video and images could help anyway.

I did many times focaccia using this recipe and it's the closest thing to real focaccia genovese I can get

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Pay attention to the part where water is added on top of the dough! –  m.bagattini Aug 28 '12 at 15:13
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you should let the dough rise first without any oil (except for the oil which you will add in mixing), after the 1st rise, weigh your dough (if making diff. variations), then add the Olive oil in a pan and add your dough. (put a lot of olive oil in a pan so it wont stick and for a flavorful taste). then wait for a final rise, (double in size again). Then ready to bake.

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