The crown jewel of my neighborhood was at Grand Ave and May. D'Amato's bakery was an amazing place. This bakery was old school. They made freshly baked bread and other stuff that I couldn't (wouldn't) afford. However, they made a tomato focaccia. This one were good.
D'Amato's Bakery on Grand Ave in Chicago- the only bakery in
the city with two apostrophes.
It was a flat loaf of bread about 10 inches across, riddled with pits and valleys packed full of roasted tomatoes, salt, garlic and Italian seasoning. The mass was cooked to a golden brown and sold for two bucks. They were amazing. If I bought one, I'd eat one. The whole thing. Done.
Today it is 15 years later and I'm at my home in Florida after working a string of 20 hour days, not knowing up from down and nursing injuries I've accrued but I don't know where I got them. My brain is reeling and recollecting ancient stale visions of yesteryear and I got a severe hankerin' for a D'Amato's focaccia.
I got to working. It is like a chewy pizza dough, only bready, risen and sweet. How to do it? I mixed 3 cups of bread flour with 2 teaspoons of salt and 2 teaspoons of sugar. I blended that together. I added a cup of water with 3 teaspoons of yeast dissolved within. I added about 1/4 cup of olive oil, because it is freaky delicious.
I blended the mixture together by hand and let it rise for one hour. After an hour I kneaded it and cut it into two pieces. I made it into two 10-inch pieces about 1.5 cm thick. I put it onto a greased cookie sheet and pushed hard into the surface with my fingers to make numerous indentations as deep as the pan surface. It continued to rise for 30 minutes.
While rising I cut grape tomatoes in half and sliced an overripe tomato I had in the kitchen. I sprayed them with olive oil and put them under the broiler until they were smoking.
While that was happening I minced kalamata olives. I put them in one bowl, the burned tomato in another. I added parmesian cheese, garlic, salt, olive oil and generous heaps of Italian seasoning, all in proportions that just made sense. No measuring.
I spread each on the rising dough and popped it into the oven for 30 minutes at 400°F.
To date, my most triumphant night of reverse engineering.
I retrieved golden brown perfection. Each were topped with fresh rosemary, oregano and basil from the garden (yes, it is December and I have fresh herbs-ha), then dug in. Each was amazing in its own right. The tomato one was beautiful and sweet, with herbed roasted tomato on chewy crust. The olive one was spectacular.
Neither was as good as D'Amato's, but still they were masterpieces. This was by far the best thing that has come from the Experimental Pizza kitchen.