My Gluten Free Focaccia Genovese is a traditional Italian flatbread. Thin and crisp on the outside, giving way to a tender, slightly chewy centre. No one will ever know its gluten free. Dairy Free and Vegan.
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Introducing my Gluten Free Focaccia Genovese
If you need a great Gluten Free Focaccia recipe, it’s right here! My traditional Gluten Free Focaccia Genovese is crusty on the outside, with a tender interior that’s a little bit chewy and ‘doughy’. It’s exceptionally moreish and delicious. It’s not your average gluten free Focaccia and not like many of the other gluten free recipes you’ll find on the internet. But trust me… THIS one is the REAL deal.
Why my Gluten Free Focaccia Genovese is different to others you’ve seen
The first thing you’ll notice about my Gluten Free Focaccia is that it looks ‘different’. But that doesn’t mean it’s ‘wrong’. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. You see, in Italy, Focaccia comes in many varieties… And I’m not just referring to toppings. They vary in thickness and crust, flavourings and texture.
The Focaccia you may be most familiar with, is the one I like to refer to as ‘fat’ Focaccia. It’s frequently baked in a round tin, has a thick spongy crumb and is often covered with various toppings… A bit like a pizza. I’m no Focaccia expert, but I’m pretty sure the ones we get in the UK are a bit of a ‘British take’ on Focaccia Pugliese… A regional bread from the Puglia region of Italy.
But the Gluten Free Focaccia I share with you here is more of a Focaccia Genovese (also known as Fügassa)… An Italian flatbread that hails from Genoa. It’s addictively delicious and is topped simply, with a little rosemary or a few olives and a sprinkling of coarse salt flakes. Importantly, it is thin and crispy…. And should be no more than a couple of centimetres thick.
Is it difficult to make a Gluten Free Focaccia Genovese?
Fundamentally no… The recipe shared for my Gluten Free Focaccia Genovese is not difficult. But heads up… The ingredients matter and there is a knack to knowing when it’s done.
And yes… the process (like all gluten free bread) is different from making standard wheat bread. Why? Because there is no gluten to develop. And that means there is no point in rising and knocking back the dough several times as would be required for a ‘usual’ focaccia recipe. As a result, making gluten free focaccia is definitely a lot quicker.
Ingredients needed to make Gluten Free Focaccia Genovese
I’ll say up front that the ingredients to make this particular Focaccia Genovese have been carefully formulated. I make no apology. If you want great and authentically replicated bakes, but gluten free, it is exceptionally rare (in my opinion) to create the textures and flavours from a bag of ‘Doves Freee’! I don’t care what any of the hugely popular bloggers tell you…
The gluten free flour blend for this recipe
… Like I said, it matters. The blend used in this recipe is a mix of 4 gluten free flours… Tapioca Starch (for crunch and stretch), Buckwheat and Sorghum Flours for protein and structure and Potato Starch to give a yummy doughy chew. They are combined in balanced ratios that have been tried and tested. There is also psyllium husk added to ensure a full bread texture.
Other than that, this focaccia (like any other recipe) is primarily a combination of water, yeast, olive oil and a little salt.
Tips for making great Gluten Free Focaccia Genovese
Follow the recipe
The recipe is your instruction sheet for getting good gluten free focaccia. If you change it (except stated as okay on the recipe card) then the chances are it won’t work.
Check the water temperature
When activating the yeast, it is ESSENTIAL that the warm water is the right temperature. Too high and the yeast will die and stop working. Too cold and it will struggle to get going.
The optimum temperature for activating yeast is 38 C/100 F. That’s the same as ‘hand hot’ (body temperature). So, if you haven’t got a food thermometer to help you out, be sure to check by touch or dribbling a little on your forearm. Hand hot is made with about a third boiling water to two-thirds cold water.
For this recipe, I have used Dried Active Yeast (NOT instant yeast). That means that it needs to be activated before adding to the rest of the ingredients. This is done (as the recipe instructs) by mixing it with some hand-hot water (see above) and a little honey or maple syrup (to feed it).
You’ll know it has activated if (after mixing and standing in a warm room for about 10 minutes), the liquid has developed lots of froth and bubbles on the surface. If after leaving to activate, the yeast is not showing signs of bubbling, try setting the bowl over a mug of steaming water to double check for ‘life’. If there is still nothing, it’s likely to be dead.
In this case, throw it away and start again. Something has gone wrong either with the water temperature or perhaps the yeast was too old and has ‘gone off’. And if the yeast isn’t active, the bread won’t rise.
Proofing the gluten free focaccia dough
After mixing, the dough will go through two stages of proofing. The first in the mixing bowl, when it will increase in size by almost double. The second, after it has been ‘worked’ into a flat shape on the baking tray and before baking.
The second stage is particularly important. Although you don’t really ‘knock back’ the dough after the first rise (and it is this which helps give the dough irregular air pockets in the crumb), it is still important to push a fair amount of air out at this stage. To do this, work it flat with either oiled hands or an oiled rolling pin. For the dough quantity shared in the recipe below, stretch to the size of roughly 38 cm/15″ x 25 cm/10″.
Watch the second proof very carefully. The dough needs to rise until it is a little puffy but not over-stretched. Over-proof and the chances are the final focaccia will be excessively doughy due to collapse. To be fair, it’s still delicious, but it’s not quite what you are aiming for.
Don’t forget to prod deep dips into the dough before baking
Traditional focaccia has a surface which is marked by dips and ‘wells’. This is not just for prettiness. The dips help the bread to bake more evenly inside, as well as to support a crusty top.
To avoid over-proofing, I usually prod lots of dents into the surface about 5 to 10 minutes before I think it will be ready for the oven. I do this with a finger that has been dipped in olive oil. That also gives me time to add any rosemary, olives and other garnishes before it goes in the oven.
How will I know when the Gluten Free Focaccia is ready?
This is perhaps the trickiest part of the whole process. A gluten free Focaccia Genovese needs a long bake. And that means that by the time you start to check it, it will already have a darkened and crusty surface. That doesn’t necessarily mean it is cooked inside. The structure of the gluten free flours used needs extra time.
Hold your nerve. Cook for the full duration. The Focaccia is initially baked in a hot oven. The oven is then turned down part-way through. When the oven is turned down, cover the bread with foil to prevent burning or over-browning (and remove for the last few minutes to ensure the surface is crisp). But don’t be tempted to take it out… At least, not until you are sure you really know your oven. You can always adjust the cooking time on the second go.
Cool the Focaccia a little before eating
Once the gluten free focaccia is baked, place on a wire rack to cool. Although the bread is fine to eat hot, it is definitely better once it has cooled just a little, or is even cold. It is still at its best fresh though.
How long will gluten free focaccia bread last?
Like most flatbreads, my Gluten Free Focaccia Genovese is at its best when freshly baked. However, if you store in foil or a sealed bag, it will still be good to eat for a couple of days. If it’s gone a little ‘soft’, simply warm under the grill or pop back in a hot oven for a few minutes. We’ve even toasted ours as cheese on toast. Yum!
Is this Gluten Free Focaccia Genovese safe for Coeliacs?
Yes. Providing the recipe is followed as stated and any ingredients are double-checked for cross-contamination or hidden gluten risk, this gluten free focaccia recipe is safe for people with Coeliac Disease (Celiac).
Is this Gluten Free Focaccia dairy free and vegan?
Equally, there are no dairy ingredients included in this focaccia. So yes! The recipe is dairy free as well as gluten free.
There is also no egg used, so the recipe is suitable for a Vegan diet too. Just be sure to use Maple syrup instead of honey (or sub with caster sugar) to activate the yeast.
How to serve Gluten Free Focaccia Genovese
Focaccia Genovese is delicious on its own, or dipped in a little balsamic syrup alongside some Mediterranean olives and sundried tomatoes. It is also a perfect accompaniment for a lunch of cold continental meats and cheese.
As a versatile flatbread, it comes into its own served with salad (try my No Mayo Pineapple Slaw), or a sumptuously creamy homemade Roasted Vegetable Soup. Equally, it pairs wonderfully with Baked Greek Feta, Italian Green Beans in Tomatoes or even an Indian Red Lentil Dahl with Roasted Squash.
But whether you eat it for breakfast, lunch, as a side or a snack, enjoy every bite. Because this Gluten Free Focaccia will take you back to memories of ‘real’ food and beyond!
How will you eat Gluten Free Focaccia Genovese?
I do hope you love my Gluten Free Focaccia Genovese. It took a while to get right, so if there are any questions, just shout and I’ll do my best to help.
If you make it, do let me know what you think… Leave a comment, rate the recipe ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ or tag me on social media with your focaccia pics. It’s easy to find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest. But remember to use the hashtag #glutenfreealchemist and tag me in (@glutenfreealchemist) so that I can find you too.
And if you’re looking for other amazing gluten free bread bakes, why not have a look at our dedicated Gluten Free Bread Index? We have recipes that have literally changed people’s lives! We even have the French sister of the Focaccia, a Gluten Free Fougasse recipe that is divine! And some perfectly soft inside-crisp outside Gluten Free Breadsticks. For everything else, head over to our main Gluten Free Recipe Index and see what takes your fancy!
A few of our other gluten free bread recipes to tempt you…
** © 2019-2023 Kate Dowse All Rights Reserved. Do not copy or re-publish this recipe or any part of this recipe on any other blog, on social media or in a publication without the express permission of Gluten Free Alchemist.**
Gluten Free Focaccia Genovese
- whisk (hand or electric) + dough hook attachment
- cling film
- large baking tray – (38 cm/15" x 25 cm/10")
- 7 g dried active yeast (NOT instant yeast)
- 15 g runny honey or maple syrup (or caster sugar)
- 90 g/ml hand-warm water (38 C/100 F)
Flour blend/dry ingredients
- 100 g tapioca starch flour
- 70 g buckwheat flour or sub with millet flour
- 75 g sorghum flour or sub with gluten free oat flour
- 15 g potato starch
- 16 g ground psyllium husk
- 5 g fine sea salt = 1 levelled teaspoon
- 1 tsp dried oregano/basil/mixed herbs optional
Additional liquid ingredients
- 200 g/ml hand-warm water (38 C/100 F)
- 1 tsp cider vinegar or white wine vinegar or lemon juice
- 1½ tbsp olive oil
- large pinch salt flakes
- fresh rosemary and/or olives rosemary washed; olives drained
- extra virgin olive oil to drizzle
Activate the yeast
- Activate the yeast first by mixing the yeast, honey/maple syrup and 90 g/ml quantity of hand warm water in a small bowl.
- Give the mix a little whisk with a fork/small hand whisk to help the yeast to dissolve.
- Set aside to activate for about 10 minutes in a warm room.
- If after 10 minutes the yeast hasn't frothed or isn't showing signs of bubbling, there may be a problem. Try setting the bowl over a mug of steaming water to double check for 'life'. But if the yeast still doesn't bubble, throw it away and start again. It is likely to be dead and will not work.
Mix dry ingredients
- In a large bowl, weigh and mix together the flours, psyllium, salt and herbs.
Making the focaccia dough & first proof
- When the yeast is ready, add the second quantity of hand-warm water, vinegar and olive oil to the flour as well as the activated yeast mix.
- Mix well with an electric whisk attached with a dough hook (this can be a hand or stand mixer) until combined. It will still look quite loose and even 'runny' at this stage.
- Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides and leave the dough batter to sit for 10 minutes. This will allow the flours to start to hydrate and absorb the liquid.
- After 10 minutes of hydration, beat the mixture again with the dough hooks for a good 5 to 10 minutes until the dough is thick and even. Scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple of times during the mixing process.
- Scrape the dough into the centre of the bowl, cover the bowl with a plate or some cling-film and leave to proof in a warm place for about 30 minutes (dependent on the warmth of the room), until just under double in size.
- While the dough is proofing, prepare a baking tray (38 cm/15" x 25 cm/10") by base-lining with baking paper.
Shaping the dough and second proof
- When the dough has completed its first proof, tip it out onto the prepared baking tray (do not 'knock it back' prior to doing this).
- Oil your hands with a little olive oil to prevent sticking (or use an oiled rolling pin) and gently but firmly pummel and press the dough using knuckles and the palm of the hand to flatten it to the size of the baking tray. As you flatten the dough, you will naturally knock out quite a lot of the air. This is good.
- The dough should now be only about ¾ to 1 cm in thickness, and the top should have a fine coating of oil.
- Loosely cover the stretched focaccia dough with a sheet of clingfilm and set aside in a warm place to proof for about 30 minutes.
- While the dough is rising, pre-heat the oven to 220 C/425 F/Gas 7.
- When close to the 30 minutes, check the dough to see how well it has risen. It should be puffy, but not over-stretched. Remember that the dough will rise further in the oven with the initial 'oven spring'.
Decorating and baking
- Working quickly and with oiled fingers, poke deep dips and 'wells' into the surface of the focaccia dough… all over!
- Randomly poke some rosemary sprigs (about 2 cm/1 inch long) or a few well-drained olives into some of the dips.
- Drizzle a little extra olive oil on the surface and sprinkle a pinch or two of salt flakes.
- Bake at 220 C/425 F/Gas 7 for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, turn the oven down to 190 C/375 F/Gas 5 and cover the part-baked focaccia with a large sheet of foil to protect from burning/over-browning.
- Bake for about a further 25 to 30 minutes (removing the foil for the last 5 minutes to ensure a crusty surface). Hold your nerve. It is difficult to tell when the focaccia is fully baked as the surface looks good long before the inside is baked. If after cooling you find the bread is either over or under baked, adjust the oven/timings slightly next time.
- Once baked, transfer the focaccia to a wire rack and allow to cool. Best served just warm or cold, but still fresh.
- Leftovers can be re-heated under the grill, or by popping in a hot oven for a few minutes.
© 2019-2023 Kate Dowse All Rights Reserved – Do not copy or re-publish this recipe or any part of this recipe on any other blog, on social media or in a publication without the express permission of Gluten Free Alchemist