Focaccia with Pork Belly and Cipollini – Thank You Nancy Silverton

Thank you Nancy. Thank you Shirley. Thank you for your hunger for knowledge. For your brilliance. And an exceptionally deep thanks for generosity in sharing and inspiring.

My baking obsession has been once again been roused and it is due to these two phenomenal ladies. The siren’s call to the oven first began about two weeks ago with an article in the LA Times Food.  Nancy Silverton, one of LA’s restaurant matriarchs, shared her focaccia insights with one and all.

LA’s bread master wasn’t inspired by pans of focaccia until a few years ago when she experienced the Italian bread in its motherland.  Aroused and determined to recreate the love she found in Italy, Nancy did a little culinary PI work in the kitchens of Italy. She came home with magic and began to add to Mozza’s already potent arsenal.

There are those who would sever a pinky to learn some of Nancy’s secrets. Nearly every dough-based item coming out of Mozza leaves the uninitiated with their jaws dropped.  Hell, even after having the pizzas dozens of times, ours still get a little slack-jawed, at least until we can get another bite.  Now, Nancy was saving the digits, and sharing that which she knew with all who wanted to listen.

With the baking mojo beginning to flow through my veins, I stumbled upon my second breath of baking brilliance at IACP in Austin this past weekend. Saturday afternoon Diane and I were presenting a seminar on photography, so we were attending IACP with that more on our minds then actually learning from the other seminars.

We arrived only in time for the final two days due to a heavy workload at home and we still had our seminar to polish. The few other seminars we were able to sit in on were fun and led by brilliant people, but our minds were a bit distracted. Until Saturday morning.

We sneaked into The Science of Baking seminar a little late, grabbing a couple chairs in the back. There was this cute, plump Southern grandma getting all giddy about flour up on stage. I liked her.

At first, listening to Shirley was more entertaining than anything. This darling Southern-drawling grandma, all excited waving her arms around to describe the flaky texture of pie crust. And occasionally making fun of her husband’s lack of kitchen savvy. She was absolutely adorable.

The more she talked, the more it became evident, this woman was f*&!-ing brilliant. She had gone through this “puff pastry phase”, making puff pastry for months on end. She came up with a technique of brushing the puff pastry with ice water in between turns.  This did accomplished several things: it kept the dough chilled-allowing it to be turned repeatedly instead of having to be chilled between turns, it made the dough easier to work, and it added additional layers of water to the dough, giving more steam (and more puff) to the dough when baking.  F*%!-ing brilliant!

Listening to Shirley, in her excitement and wisdom unleashed my baking fervor. Give me some butter, flour, and eggs and get me to a kitchen now!  Even the 20 year baking CIA veteran who was “assisting” Shirley was blown away by her insights. I want this woman to be my 3rd grandma!

I can’t wait to get my hands on Shirley’s book, BakeWise. It is on order and awaiting delivery.  These two brilliant women, Nancy and Shirley, through their generosity and pure culinary savvy have re-light a fire in this baking boy’s heart.

Here’s a little derivative off of Nancy’s focaccia recipe. I’ve taken our household staple bread dough, the Five-Minutes-A-Day basic dough, then used Nancy’s advice of a baking in a cake pan generously coated with olive oil. Top everything with pork belly, cipollini onions, cherry tomatoes, and some fresh chopped rosemary pressed into the dough. A little sea salt, fresh cracked pepper, and a touch more olive oil.  Momma mia!


Cooking Notes:

Dough before rise and after. Don’t try to stretch it all the way to the sides before rising.  It will spread on its own and the dough won’t get overworked.

Rendering the fat from the pork belly. Love some fresh rosemary.

Cherry tomatoes are perfect. Slice in half and stuff in.

Press all the ingredients into the dough. Gently push them down and out towards the sides of the pan.

Brush everything with a final coat of olive oil to give the top a nice crispiness.


5 from 1 vote
Pork Belly & Cippollini Onion Focaccia Recipe
Additional Proofing Time
4 hrs
Total Time
59 mins

The dough keeps easily for a week or so.  It will start to develop a little sourdough flavor the longer it sits, but the texture starts to change a bit over time, so you don't want to store it too long in the fridge. If you don't have cipollini onions, substitute some thickly sliced sweet onions or shallots instead. Thick bacon will work instead of the pork belly, you just won't have as much control over the thickness of the pork.  Depending on the thickness of your bacon, you probably won't need to render the bacon beforehand. Just cut it and push the uncooked bacon into the dough. It is much easier to make the dough using weigh rather than volume. After I started baking this way, life in the kitchen became easier, faster, and more accurate.

Servings: 9 Slices
  • 1 1/2 cups (350ml) Warm Water @115ºF)
  • 2 teaspoons (10g) Active Dry Yeast
  • 2 teaspoons (10g) Sea Salt
  • 3 1/4 cups (450g) Bread Flour
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) good quality Olive Oil
  • 1/3 lb. (150g) Pork Belly, sliced 1/4" thick
  • 5 Cipollini Onions , peeled and sliced in half
  • Handful of Cherry Tomatoes , sliced in half
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped Fresh Rosemary
  • Sea Salt and fresh cracked Black Pepper to taste
  • extra olive oil for brushing
  1. Combine water,  active dry yeast, and sea salt in a large resealable container or bowl. Mix to dissolve yeast. Add flour.  Mix to incorporate flour, cover, and set in a warm spot to proof until doubled in volume (usually 1-3 hrs depending on initial water temp and warmth of proofing area)
  2. Chill the dough for a bit (will keep fine in fridge for several days if you want to make the dough ahead of time) to make it easier to handle (this can be skipped if you don’t have the time.)
  3. Coat a 9"x9" cake pan with 1/4 cup of olive oil, working the oil up the sides of the pan as well.  Flatten dough a bit and place in pan (it won't spread all the way to the sides yet.  Don't worry, as it rises it will fill the pan.)

  4. Allow dough to rise for 1-2 hours in a warm place. (If you press your finger in the dough and it springs back, it needs a little more time.  If it leaves a divot, it is ready to bake.)
  5. While the dough rises, heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add pork belly and cook for a minute or so each side to render the fat. Strain out of pan and place on paper towel to soak up excess fat.
  6. Preheat oven to 450º F
  7. When dough is ready, press pork belly slices, onions, and tomatoes into the dough. Sprinkle with rosemary, sea salt, and fresh cracked black pepper, then gently brush the top with olive oil.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top becomes a light golden brown. Place pan in the very bottom of the oven and bake for 5 minutes more to get the bottom of the focaccia a little extra crispy.
  9. Remove from oven and all to cool a bit. Slice into 9 squares and serve.
{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }
  1. jen

    This recipe didn’t work for me. My dough never rose. I read on another post that yeast and salt are not supposed to touch before the mixing stage yet this recipe has you add both together? Did I do something wrong?

    1. White on Rice Couple

      I don’t think the problem is in the yeast and salt “touching” before mixing. We’ve done it this way for hundreds of different loaves and never have a problem. Did the dough not rise in the proofing stage or in the baking pan? If it was the former, maybe your yeast was bad, the water too hot (killed off the yeast), or if the water was cold the yeast will be very slow to activate at rise the dough. If it was in the baking pan, maybe it needed more time to rise before baking. Yeast breads are always very susceptible to environmental conditionals and it will affect proofing and rising times tremendously. Warm rises faster, cool much slower.

  2. Cristina

    Nice recipe, wonderful blog! 🙂

    (“cipolline” means “small onions”)

  3. norma

    WOW! I want some and I want it NOW!

  4. sarah

    Holy moly! I can smell the rosemary from my screen!

  5. Snippets of Thyme

    You have made me VERY popular in my house tonight. I made it. I love it. Family is devouring it! Definite do again and again and again…..the topping choices…yum.

  6. peggy

    wow! now that’s what i call a killer focaccia!

  7. Yvette

    Foccacia, rosemary, and tomatoes! WOW! Stunning photos as always!

  8. Lotus Cloud

    Okay, I’ve got several pounds of “Five Minutes a Day” bread dough in the ‘fridge. What amount, in ounces, should I hack off to make this fabulous looking treat?!

    Love you guys,


    1. White on Rice Couple

      The dough set I have now (same quantity) weighs out at 780 g ( or about 27 1/2 ounces.) Enjoy!


  9. Nicole Franzen

    that looks divine. yum

  10. Snippets of Thyme

    Woah. Woah! You sold me. Everything about that focaccia is calling me. Love the grandma story and the choice (*(#^&%(^$) wording had me chortling. Beautiful ingredient shots. This weekend, your pizza, grandma, and this dish in my kitchen!! Oh yeah, and my camera…

  11. MikeVFMK

    These are a few of my favourite things. But bolder. Better. You were right, it is brilliant. And this combination of pork belly and cipollini and rosemary has me dreaming of foccacia in my own kitchen.

  12. Lori @ RecipeGirl

    I need to get me some pork belly. Your focaccia looks absolutely restaurant-quality (as we say in our house). Wish I had the opportunity to attend IACP this year- it looked like everyone had such a great time!

  13. Deborah

    I just started in on this recipe, and the dough is on my counter rising right now, but I’d like to point out that for anyone who’s using the volume measurements (I cannot, for the life of me, get my scale to switch from oz. to g), 350ml is NOT 1/2 c. I’m pretty sure a “1” was left off of the front of that, and since I wasn’t paying attention, when I added ALL that flour to that tiny amount of water, I went Ok, something’s wrong here…

    Just FYI!

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Thanks Deborah. You are completely correct, we accidentally deleted a “1” when formatting the recipe. So sorry about that. Thanks for giving us the heads up!

      1. nicole

        aha! i do not have a kitchen scale and was using measuring cups. i just added more water until the dough “looked right”. which may or not have been “right”. either way, my boyfriend and i still devoured this bread! thanks for sharing.

  14. Kelly

    BakeWise has been on my Amazon wish list since Dec 2008 (I knew I had it in there, but had to check WHEN I put it there). I think it’s time it moved to my shopping cart. That focaccia looks amazing, plus the description you gave of her seminar has me itching to have the book in my hands. Beautiful photos, as always!

  15. Urban Wife

    This focaccia looks absolutely divine! I would never have thought to use that much olive oil because of my fear that the dough would turn out too heavy. Great tip. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  16. Tengo un horno y sé cómo usarlo

    LOOOOVE your wonderful work! Go on, guys. It’s fabulous!

  17. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga

    The foccacia is beautiful! I love the rosemary and tomatoes in it. I adore tomatoes in any form and in this foccacia they look perfect!

    I am digging the wood on wood shots in the last two pics you used and of course all your photos are just….beautiful!

  18. Anthony Ryan Photography Santa Clarita Photographer

    The detail is un like most, looks great to eat right off the page! Do you ever post videos of you’re shoots?

  19. Sally cameron

    Gorgeous and delicious Todd! Funny, I have that page of the LA Times sitting just a few inches from my mouse right now. No kidding! I’ve been wanting to get into the kitchen and try Nancy’s recipe, knowing if it’s hers it will work. I’ve been looking for the prefect focaccia recipe for awhile. After seeing your success with it, I’ve got to try it. Wish I had gone to the baking session at IACP. At least we made yours and Diane’s. It was terrific, as always Thanks! We have our bookcloth on order.

  20. The Cilantropist

    Oh lord this sounds fabulous! Pork belly and Cippolini alone are awesome, but brighten it up with sliced tomatoes and you definitely have a winner. I love how baking can become a happy obesession! 😉

  21. ravenouscouple

    the 5 min bread dough is our go to as well, definitely will have to try this!

  22. Elizabeth

    Oh my goodness, that looks absolutely, ridiculously delicious! I LOVE a good foccacia and that just looks right up my alley. What a wonderful combination of flavours. I am addicted to rosemary, and the addition of the rest of the ingredients just seems so perfect. Thank you!

  23. Cey

    I love it!

  24. Michelle

    Brilliant. must. make. now.

    You never seem to disappoint. Love where you two are going.

  25. Shaina

    This sounds amazing, and I will be checking out Shirley’s book as well. Baking bread is something I’ve done and continue to do, but honing that craft is a different story altogether.

  26. Lucy Lean

    Love this, love Nancy – can’t wait to hear more from Shirley who sounds delightful – and love you – it’s a focaccia love fest!

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