“Hot spread sauce” is a popular condiment in Calabria, the southernmost tip of Italy. It is a spicy, vinegary, multipurpose spread made from Calabrian chiles and chopped mixed vegetables that makes a great addition to sandwiches, eggs, and other dishes in need of a little kick. Ask your deli to slice the mortadella as thinly as possible. It’s okay if it tears, as you’re going to rip it into pieces and pile it in heaps when you top the focaccia at the end.
- In a small bowl, combine 100 grams of the water with the yeast. Stir to dissolve and let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, remaining water, and 30 grams of olive oil. Add the yeast mixture, and mix thoroughly with your hands until all the visible flour is incorporated and a shaggy dough forms, about 3 minutes.
- Cover the dough loosely in plastic wrap and set aside to autolyse for 30 minutes. This will help the flour to become fully hydrated, activating enzymes that will help the yeast to access its nutrients.
- Sprinkle the salt over the dough and mix with your hands until fully incorporated. The dough should feel smooth and supple and a little taught.
- Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to sit at room temperature for about 1-2 hours to ferment. It should appear bubbly and nearly doubled in size. It's okay if it hasn't fully doubled by this point; it will continue to ferment in the fridge.
- Chill the covered dough for at least 8 hours, and up to 24. This lengthy fermentation will develop flavor and structure.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and allow the dough to warm slightly at room temperature, about 30 minutes.
- Apply 15g of olive oil to a 13x18" rimmed baking sheet and use a spatula to scrape the dough from the bowl onto the oiled sheet. Using oiled hands, gently stretch dough, pushing it into the corners of the pan. If it tenses up, let it rest for 5-10 minutes. This will allow the gluten to relax, making it easier to stretch.
- Using hands or a pastry brush, gently rub 15g of olive oil over the top of the dough. Cover gently in plastic wrap and allow to proof in a warm place for 1-2 hours, or until it's puffy and bubbly, and has grown to fill the tray. 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450°F.
- When the oven is preheated and the dough is puffy, use your fingers to press deep dimples across the entirety of the dough. Bubbles should rise to the surface, and the dough should spring back only slightly, leaving the dimples intact.
- Bake 10 minutes, until the focaccia is puffy, then working quickly, remove focaccia from the oven and arrange the provolone slices evenly across the top. Bake until crisp and golden brown, and the cheese is bubbly, 10-15 minutes more.
- Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly, then spoon half of the hot spread across the surface of the focaccia. Tear the mortadella slices into 3-to-4-inch pieces and arrange them on top, and then spoon over the remaining hot spread. Serve immediately.
Alex Testere is a writer, editor, and illustrator based in Brooklyn. He spends most of his time cooking and thinking about his houseplants.