Thoughts about Blogging and Samin Nosrat's Ligurian Focaccia — Gathered At My Table - seasonal baking recipes with a creative twist (2024)

Samin Nosrat's Ligurian focaccia recipe from Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat with a smattering of fresh herbs and some instructions for incorporating your sourdough starter into a focaccia recipe.

There are many days (far too many if I’m being completely honest) where I feel silly. Silly for quitting a full-time career —a career that is looked admirably upon by our society, one that comes with benefits and a consistent salary—to become a food blogger. Silly that I spent a year and a half in culinary school and interned in a high-end restaurant to spend my days developing recipes at home. There are so many days when I think to myself, I just need to go get a real job, mostly because I care a lot about what everyone else thinks about me.

Being a teacher has value in our society. I was doing important work. It didn’t matter that I was so drained emotionally, mentally, and physically that I fell asleep on the couch before 8 p.m. almost every single night or cried on the way to work most mornings. I was changing the world. Or at least that’s what I liked to tell myself. Even working in a restaurant has value. Set time shifts, a menu to follow, guests to serve. It’s a real, viable career. In my mind, there is this hierarchy of important-ness when it comes to choosing a career and testing flourless chocolate cakes and writing detailed posts teaching someone how to start a sourdough culture doesn’t top the list. It’s been really hard for me to reconcile this with that hierarchy in my head.

It’s hard for me to find value in my work in a society that constantly tells you to “hustle” and “be a boss” and elevates “the grind” onto the highest pedestal. Am I still a strong, independent woman if I choose to spend my days following “domestic” passions? Am I a contributing member of society if I don’t receive a regular paycheck? Can I stay home if I’m not a mom? These questions swirl in my head almost every day.

Just before Christmas, we had some plumbing issues in our house and for an afternoon, our home was a revolving door of repairmen. I was shooting a new recipe for the blog in our office and as our landlord left, he asked if I was a food photographer. I was so proud, and in an effort to appear confident and poised, I replied with a definite yes. And a recipe developer, I added. His immediate follow-up question was “you make money from that?” I felt the confidence seep from me like air out of a balloon. Because, in our culture of busy-ness, that’s what it always comes down to. What are you worth? That question is asked of us everyday in someway or another. When you meet someone new, the first question is always “what do you do?”. We title ourselves teacher, doctor, lawyer, chef…stamping our careers on ourselves like a badge. This is who I am. It’s so easy, and even encouraged, to find our identity in our jobs.

Last October, I spent a weekend in Knoxville to help out a dinner party. I spent the Monday before I headed back to Orlando with my cousin Meg (who owns her own herbal goods business) and our friend Jordyn (who had the day off from work). We went to lunch and ended up on the front porch at 2 p.m., sharing a bottle of 1995 Vouvray and it was perfect. The afternoon was one I won’t soon forget forget, because slowing down, enjoying simple things like great wine and good weather, being outside, and spending time in community brought me so much joy. But with it came that nagging guilt in the back of my head. It’s a Monday afternoon, what are we doing drinking wine on the porch? We should be out there with the rest of the world, staring at computer screens and answering phone calls, right?

The work I do now sometimes feels so slow. For every food blogger that is able to create a business for themselves, write a book, or have work published in magazines, there are a hundred who never “make it”. What makes me any different? Recipe ideas scribbled into notebooks don’t feel much like a book proposal. I’ll spend hours developing and shooting a recipe I’m proud of, only to lose Instagram followers. I often find myself glued to my analytics. How many people came to the site today? Did they read anything? Why did my traffic go down? And I’m dragged right back into it— finding my value and worth in my performance or my work, rather than simply finding joy in my privilege to spend my day following my passions.

All of this to say, I’m working on remembering my real identity. I’m so grateful that those voices whispering in my head don’t speak the truth. My value isn’t dependent on the importance of my job, the size of my paycheck, or my success in the eyes of the world. And I’m trying to spend more time remembering the absolute joy I experience when someone reads my work and takes the time to make a sourdough culture. Even if it’s only one person. I’m working on reminding myself that it’s okay if I never publish a book, or make a dime off of the recipes I create or the pictures I take, or reach 10,000 Instagram followers, because at the end of it all, I’m going to be remembering the afternoons spent on the porch with friends anyway.

Samin Nosrat’s Ligurian Focaccia (lightly adapted)

Over the last few years, I’ve learned that I love making bread. The process is both precise and romantic. It slows me down and helps me take note of the little things—the change as water saturates the flour, the tightness the dough takes on when the salt is added, and the feel of gluten developing in each turn. Something about taking only a few ingredients (flour, water, salt, yeast) and using my hands to transform them into something completely new reminds me of why I love the work I do.

If you’ve ever been interested in making bread, but intimidated by the process of it all, this is the bread for you. It’s the starting line of bread making and the fact that the recipe is very low effort and very high reward makes it ideal for your first foray into bread land. (No stand mixer, no folding every hour, no fancy ingredients.) Bonus, this recipe yields the most delicious focaccia I’ve ever eaten and you feel like a star after making it.

This is the same recipe that Samin uses, I’ve just added some fresh herbs and included instructions for adding sourdough if you want to get really fancy. I like to mix together my dough the night before, let it rest on the counter and bake it first thing in the morning so that I have warm, crunchy focaccia for the entire day. This makes a pretty big sheet (about a half sheet pan size), so feel free to share some with a friend or freeze half for a rainy day.

Thoughts about Blogging and Samin Nosrat's Ligurian Focaccia  — Gathered At My Table - seasonal baking recipes with a creative twist (2024)


What are some interesting facts about focaccia bread? ›

It is thought to have originated with the Etruscans. The earliest focaccia were unleavened flatbreads made from flour, water, and salt. This simple composition meant they could be cooked using any available heat source at the time—most often in the hearth of domestic fires.

Why is focaccia important to Italy? ›

Focaccia Bread has its roots in Greek and Etruscan culture before it made its way into Italy. It is a flatbread topped with olive oil, spices and herbs which has been consumed by people for more than a thousand years. It is an independent recipe, which many believe has morphed into the famous Italian pizza.

What are the characteristics of a good focaccia? ›

Focaccia is an olive oil-rich Italian bread we can't decide is better described metaphorically as a sponge or a springy mattress. It's crispy and golden on the top and bottom crusts, and inside, it has an airy crumb (meaning there are tons of air holes, big and small, that squish in the best way possible).

Why is focaccia bread so good? ›

However, it has more yeast than pizza dough, which allows it to rise more and make a fluffier, bread-like loaf. People love focaccia because of its smooth texture and taste. However, it can provide some health benefits, making it better than regular bread.

Why is focaccia unique? ›

Focaccia is ½" to 1" thick with a light crust on the top and bottom. It's often described as "flatbread" or "Italian flat bread," but unlike the flat bread we're used to, it isn't flat at all, but thick and fluffy. The "flat" term in question simply refers to the pan in which it's baked compared to other breads.

How would you describe focaccia? ›

Focaccia (pronounced fo-kah-cha) is a flat bread similar to pizza dough that can be either sweet or savory. In Italy, Liguria is the best known region for focaccia, which is called “classica” in Genoa, a focaccia 1/2 to 1 inch thick, with a light crust and an surface full of indentations that hold oil.

Where is focaccia most popular? ›

The basic recipe is thought by some to have originated with the Etruscans, but today it is widely associated with Ligurian cuisine, while outside Liguria the word usually refers to the Genoese variants.

Why is Italian bread so good? ›

Simplicity of Ingredients: Traditional Italian bread is typically made with just four basic ingredients: flour, water, yeast, and salt. The simplicity of these ingredients allows the natural flavors to shine through, resulting in a pure and authentic taste.

Why is bread important in Italy? ›

Here are some reasons why bread is important in Italian cuisine: Tradition: Bread has been a staple in Italian cuisine for centuries, and it is deeply rooted in the country's culinary tradition. Bread is an essential component of many Italian dishes, such as bruschetta, panzanella, and crostini, to name a few.

What are the two types of focaccia? ›

Venetian focaccia is sweet, baked for Easter and resembles the traditional Christmas cake panettone. Sugar and butter are used instead of olive oil and salt. Focaccia barese, which is common in Puglia in southern Italy, is made with durum wheat flour and topped with salt, rosemary, tomatoes or olives.

Why is focaccia hard? ›

Why is my Focaccia dense and tough? Not allowing the focaccia to proof long enough in the fridge will prevent enough gluten from being formed. This causes flat and dense focaccia once baked.

Why is focaccia so oily? ›

Now, focaccia uses plenty of olive oil, not only in the dough, but for kneading, proofing, in the baking pan, and on the bread's surface before baking. All this fat means the texture is light, moist and springy, the crust emerges golden and crisp, plus the center stays soft for days afterwards.

How unhealthy is focaccia bread? ›

Fats. One slice of focaccia bread has 4.5 grams of total fat and 3.32 grams of monounsaturated fatty acids. The majority of the fat found in focaccia bread is coming from monounsaturated fats making focaccia bread a good source of dietary fats.

Can you eat focaccia by itself? ›

You can eat focaccia as a side with a meal, or slice horizontally and stuff with lunchmeat, or just eat it alone fresh out of the oven. You can also reheat focaccia in the oven.

What is focaccia supposed to taste like? ›

We scoured the internet and found that nobody has described the flavour of focaccia to any level of detail. After much head-scratching, our best effort so far is 'chewy and mildly salty with a nutty edge, a hint of fresh olive oil, and a distinct floury scent'. It feels like it matters, and it does.

What is a random fact about bread? ›

Bread was so important to Egyptians a long, long time ago that it was used a currency, or money! Kansas wheat farmers provided enough wheat to make bread in 1997 to give everyone on earth six loaves of bread – that's 36.5 billion loaves of bread! Bread is a universal sign of peace in many cultures.

What is the biggest focaccia in the world? ›

The largest focaccia bread weighed 2,800 kg (6, 172 lb) and was made by Catucci Pietro and Latte Antonio (both Italy) in the Piazza Mercato, Mottola, Taranto, Italy on 6 August 2005.

How long does focaccia last? ›

Storage: Focaccia is best enjoyed the same day it's made but will continue to taste fresh up to 3 days when stored in an airtight container or plastic bag. Leftovers: Leftover focaccia can be reheated, wrapped in foil in the oven, at 350°F/177°C, for 5 to 10 minutes until warmed through.


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