The Ingredient Swap To Give Focaccia A Major Boost

As anyone who has ever tasted a warm, crisp focaccia will attest, this simple bread is a standout addition to any table. It's no surprise, then, that countless recipes to do it ourselves have been published. However, if you're speaking to an Italian chef, you may be surprised that one of the ingredients typically suggested should be swapped out, stat.

Simple though focaccia may seem, this delicious treat can go wrong. In fact, there are multiple mistakes people make while baking their own focaccia. From storage fails to flour faux pas — and yes, we're going to go ahead and classify not making breakfast focaccia as a misstep — there's much more to the ancient Italian snack than meets the eye. You'd think that we'd have it down after being around for centuries (Delicious Italy estimates that it's been around for at least 2,000 years longer than pizza). Sure enough, many of us have been using an ingredient that works but isn't 100% accurate to the original recipe. 

Luckily for those wanting to try the most authentic flavors possible, all is not lost. In 2020, Italia Squisita spoke with the owner of a legendary Genoan bakery to hear more about their recipe (via YouTube) — and, given they've been in business since 1946, we'll go ahead and pay attention! So, which ingredient have we been using erroneously, and what should we use instead?

Skip the honey and use liquid malt extract instead

If you've been using honey for your focaccia, you're not alone. But if it's an authentic bread you're after, you might want to swap it out for liquid malt extract. 

The Marinetta bakery recipe shared with Italia Squisita lists liquid malt extract as an ingredient to give the focaccia "color and crispness" — and they're not the only Genoan focaccia whisperers who do (via YouTube). In 2020, the co-founders of Dante's Bakery, Michele and Raffaele Minghetti, told Kitchn that the key to next-level focaccia lay in liquid malt instead of honey — and after putting it to the test, the outlet concurred. In fact, food editor Nicole Rufus went so far as to describe the results as "mind-blowing." It's worth noting that the Minghetti brothers' specialty lies in focaccia Genovese, so it only makes sense that their suggestion yielded incredible results. 

The great part about this substitution is, after trying the bread on its own (a must-do!), you can go right ahead and throw on all the focaccia toppings you already know and love so well. And, if the thought of subbing any ingredients out seems like too much of a task, a recipe for focaccia with braised leeks and goat cheese will take out the guesswork. All that's left to do is go forth and get ready for a culinary delight already beloved — but even better.