Lemon Foccacia

My father would share many of his memories and stories growing up in Sicily.  His parents had moved to America before he was born but soon realized they missed their home and lifestyle too much.  My grandmother was then pregnant with my father so they waited for his birth and when he was a few months old, returned to Sicily.  At the age of 17 and on his own, he left Sicily to come back to his birthplace.  My father was always proud to say his was born an American and never returned back to Sicily, not even to visit. 

There were many things he missed and spoke of; his family, brothers and sisters, the abundance of fresh seafood and freshly prepared dishes and the ocean he swam in almost every day.  And the lemon trees growing in his family’s orchard!  I could tell what was most precious to him by his raised interest and excitement, and well, from a child’s perspective, his repeating of the same stories over and over again! 

His meals included lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and lemons were used quite frequently in his cooking.  He prepared simple food taking what he had and turning it into delicious meals.  Sitting around his table for a visit, you had better arrive hungry, as the food constantly appeared covering the table with quite an assortment.  There really was no excuse for being full or not tasting all that he offered!

I know he would love this lemon focaccia bread to dip in herbed oil or slice in half for a sandwich.  The recipe evolved from a mix of different recipes and notes.  There is no olive oil in this but is drizzled on at the end.  I like to use olive oil that I have gently heated in strips of lemon rinds and cooled.   It’s lightly lemon flavor is balanced with sharp pecorino cheese, thinly sliced red onion, Kalamata olives and fresh oregano.  A sprinkling of citrus sea salt and a drizzle of the lemon infused olive oil at the end finalizes the amazing flavor!   

And back to you Lisa, this focaccia bread would go fabulously with your Cannellini Bean Dip at Smart Food and Fit !! 

Lemon Focaccia

5 cups unbleached all purpose flour

¼ ounce (1 packet) instant yeast

2 cups water, room temperature

2 ½ teaspoons sea salt or Kosher salt

1 lemon, very thinly sliced

½ red onion, very thinly sliced

½ cup chopped Kalamata olives

2 – 3 tablespoons fresh oregano Or 1 tablespoon dried

½ cup pecorino cheese, shaved thinly

Freshly ground black pepper

Citrus sea salt, optional

Lemon infused olive oil or good quality olive oil

Using a KitchenAid mixer, combine the yeast, 2 ½ cups flour and water.  Whisk to combine well and allow to sit for 15 minutes.  Add in the remaining 2 ½ cups flour and salt.  Knead with dough hook for about 8-10 minutes.  Dough will be quite soft and sticky, but not overly sticky that it sticks to the bottom of the bowl.  Add additional flour as needed.  Turn dough into a well oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 3 ½ – 4 hours until doubled in size.  (The dough can also be made up to 3 days ahead; refrigerate the dough after it is kneaded and on the baking day, remove from the refrigerator and allow to double in size on the counter, about 4 hours).  Remove the dough to a large baking sheet, about 17 x 22 and gently press dough into shape using your fingers to dimple the dough.  Allow to rest for another hour.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Lay the lemon slices on the dough, onion, olives, oregano and freshly ground black pepper.  Drizzle on some olive oil.  Reduce the oven to 450 degrees and place in the oven.  Bake for 15 minutes, remove and add the pecorino cheese, rotate the pan and return to the oven.  Continue to bake for another 15 minutes or until lemons and crust is golden brown.  Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack.  Sprinkle on citrus sea salt and a drizzle of lemon infused olive oil and allow to cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

63 thoughts on “Lemon Foccacia

  1. I think I’ll put Mike in charge of making this dish. He seems to be better with yeast than I am and this looks like something we need to make! I love the flavors – and the story that comes with them. 🙂

  2. Oh, this is too good! Lemon focaccia! What a great idea, I am a lover of all things lemon, I never thought of adding lemon to a flatbread.

    Must try this… awesome!

  3. What a gorgeous recipe – we have our lovely lemons on the tree in the garden thast just deserve to be made into this! And love the story about your dad. Mine was born and bought up in Italy and used to go back frequently. Less so now, he´s proud of the life he made for himself and his family in London. I guess they had it so much tougher than us, and stories about our parents remind us of this. Lovely post!

    1. He was actually sorry at the end that he had never returned to visit and encouraged me to go someday…which I do hope to! I’ll have to check our your bean dip, does sound perfect to go with this!

  4. Jeez, Linda. Our fathers’ stories are so similar. My grandparents left San Marino, Dad was born here, and they returned “home” when he was 2 years old. He came here for good when he was 16. Incredible! This focaccia of yours is a work of art! It definitely has a Sicilian flair and I bet it goes mighty quick when you bring it to the table. How I wish I was sitting at that table when you do! A great post, Linda, one that I thoroughly enjoyed.

    1. John, I can’t believe it!! wow..had you ever written this about your father? I’m sorry I missed it if you did. Within a year after my father arrived here, barely speaking English, he was sent to war and became a POW for over a year. He really was a strong man, inside and out. I think our families would have enjoyed sharing a table together and it would be an honor to have you at mine!

  5. Now THAT looks like an amazing focaccia, and I do love focaccia! The flavor combo is making my mouth water. I love the story of your dad, too. How wonderful it must be to have these first and second generation stories of family immigrating to America and of the memories they brought with them. We can trace our families to the time that they came to America, but have no reference of their lives in their countries before, and therefore, regretfully in my opinion, have none of those cooking influences passed along. Great post!

  6. OO I love the idea of infusing the oil with lemon strips. I also use lemons frequently in my cooking. And thank you for telling us a bit about your history, what a fascinating life your father had, he must have been very brave to come al the way to america when he was so young! c

  7. What wonderful memories about your dad, thanks for sharing, Linda. You’re right–I’m sure he would have absolutely loved this bread. I know I would! You definitely had my attention when you mentioned lemon. One of my favorite flavors. 🙂

  8. Your father’s upbringing in Sicily sounds idyllic. That’s incredible that once arriving in the US at the age of 17 he never once went back. His parents must have been devastated. Your lemon foccacia looks delicious – beautiful colours there.

    1. Being a parent now myself, I can’t imagine my son leaving at 17 and never seeing him again…those were definitely different times but a mother’s love never changes; it truly must have been hard for her.

  9. I loved learning about your father today, Linda. What I also loved about your story was how recipes evolved based on the access to certain foods that were readily accessible at the time and location of the person who was cooking. How neat to look back at recipes and wonder or realize that they have lemons popping up everywhere because of the lemon tree growing nearby.. love this!

  10. this is such a lovely post, I can picture your father preparing all that food for guests. I love lemon in cooking, it is the only fruit I really like with meats and savoury food, and the twist of lemon infused olive oil sounds delicious.

  11. Hi Linda – what a lovely story – I think it’s hard not to have fond memories about the places where you spent your childhood – especially if you spent many a day enjoying fabulous food and swimming in warm seas.

    I still haven’t made foccacia – something I’ve been meaning to try for a long, long time. Yours looks fabulous – loving the lemon and the cheese and olives. I can imagine the wonderful flavour combination 🙂

  12. That is the most gorgeous foccacia ever! I can’t wait to try this recipe for one of our Sunday night dinners at my mom’s. We all always bring something and this would blow them away! The lemon olive oil sounds like the perfect finishing touch as well!

  13. What a great idea to lay lemons on the top of the bread. I work at arestaurant where we make all our sandwiches on foccacia. Everyone raves about the bread. I haven’t made foccacia in ages, but this makes me want to get baking!

  14. I have never heard about lemon foccacia, but it sounds divine. It reminds me of a Sicilian recipe I used to make with some lemon zest… I must remake it soon!

  15. Thank you so much Linda for the beautiful tribute to dad! You truly do take after mom and dad with your love for cooking. Dad would have loved this lemon foccacia. It looks really good. You made me laugh with how dad would always say the same stories over again! 🙂

  16. What an amazing bread. It looks really delicious and your story is beautiful It is a wonderful tribute and I’m sure he is smiling somewhere. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  17. Lemon trees… can you imagine the glory…I’d be missing them too. How nice to have those loving memories of your Dad. The combination of ingredients in your foccacia is just delightful Linda – I adore kalamata olives and lemon on bread and the sprinkle of pecorino cheese is just perfect. What a pretty dish too. Your Dad would no doubt love this Linda.

  18. I love everything about this post – the details about the family history, the recipe itself – and the lemons! I love anything lemon. But this foccacia is over the top! I can’t wait to make it for my sister – we are one of a kind about this lovely citrus fruit!

  19. What great flavor combinations. Since you live in Florida, I bet your lemon tree will take off and grow big and strong soon with all the warmth and sunshine.

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