Nancy Silverton answers your focaccia questions

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You had questions, Nancy Silverton has the answers. The ace baker, chef-owner of Mozza and author of our latest Master Class on making focaccia, responded to the following queries.

Via Twitter, someone asked Nancy about the protein percentage of the flour she uses (she has her own custom mix). Nancy says it is 12%.


Katherine Guzman questioned why Nancy had gone to Puglia in southern Italy for focaccia when, she argued, it really came from Liguria. She answered: ‘It’s true that Liguria is known for focaccia and I did go there and had a wonderful focaccia in the town of Recco. However, as mentioned in the story, focaccia hails from both Liguria and Puglia.’

Jim Slaughter wanted to know why Silverton delays adding salt to the dough. Nancy answered: ‘The role salt plays in bread making is it checks fermentation. For instance if you don’t use any salt at all, your bread will easily overproof. Waiting a few minutes before adding salt is a baker’s trick, to allow slight fermentation to begin.’

Another reader wondered whether the focaccia could be made in a nonstick pan. Nancy answered: ‘I have never made this in a nonstick pan. Sometimes I find that with the coating, it is not a great conductor of heat, so you may not get the crunchy bottom crust that you get using a regular pan. And you certainly don’t need to use the nonstick pan in terms of the focaccia sticking.’

And yet another reader wondered about using whole-wheat flour. Nancy answered: ‘You can use whole-wheat flour; it is a flour, but the texture of the finished product will be completely different. You will get a much denser bread.’

Finally, Kate Kramer wondered how you’d adjust the recipe if you were using a sourdough starter rather than the sponge that the story talks about. Nancy was tied up and referred the question to Jon Davis, VP for culinary development at La Brea Bakery. He said to keep the technique the same but adjust the ingredients according to the following chart:

Batch Quantity 36.00 Ounces
Bread Flour 16.57
Water 11.06
Olive Oil 0.40
Salt 0.40
White Starter 6.81
Fresh Yeast 0.20
Rye Flour 0.57


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Photo credit: Tim French /For The Times