Focaccia Barese

Bread & Co.

In Ancient Rome, panis focacius was a flatbread baked on the hearth. The word is derived from the Latin focus meaning "hearth, place for baking”.

Focaccia is a flat oven-baked Italian bread product similar in style and texture to pizza dough. The basic recipe is thought by some to have originated with the Etruscans, but today it is widely associated with Ligurian cuisine. As the tradition spread, the different dialects and diverse local ingredients resulted in a large variety of Focaccia bread (some may even be considered cake). Due to the number of small towns and hamlets dotting the coast of Liguria, the focaccia recipe has fragmented into countless variations, with some bearing little resemblance to its original form. 

Focaccia, known and loved in Italy and abroad, is no other than yeasted flatbread. Early versions were cooked on the hearth of a hot fire, or on a heated tile or earthenware disk, like the related flatbreads. Bakers often puncture the bread with a knife to relieve bubbling on the surface of the bread. Also common is the practice of dotting the bread. This creates multiple wells in the bread by using a finger or the handle of a utensil to poke the unbaked dough. As a way to preserve moisture in the bread, olive oil is then spread over the dough, by hand, or with a brush prior to rising and baking.

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© FPWing / #384302644 – stock.adobe.com”.

Many regions of Italy have an inventive range of flavorings they add to their focaccia. For many centuries it has had an association with Christmas Eve and Epiphany. In the Italian context, one thing is obvious, namely that the addition of topping to plain focaccia would result in a kind of pizza. However, apart from this aspect, Italian focaccia has branched out in various directions.

Focaccia Barese is a typical dish from Bari in Puglia. Bakers made the focaccia dough with fresh tomatoes and olives before baking. It is arguably the top of all focaccia recipes and it’s not hard to see why. Once you taste a slice of this golden disc of goodness, the sweet cherry tomatoes mixed with dry oregano and sea salt will transport you to the seaside in Bari, Italy. The Focaccia Barese recipe is a high hydration dough and while crunchy on the outside, it is light and fluffy all the way through with a rustic highlight thanks to the addition of wholemeal flour.

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© ImaginApulia / #416768459 – stock.adobe.com”.

Recipe
By Elizabeth Minchilli


Ingredients

  • 12 gr fresh yeast (2 tsp active dry yeast)
  • 350 gr/ 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 340ml / 1 1/2 cups room temperature water
  • 250 gr / 2 cups Grano Duro rimacinato (semolina flour)
  • 5 gr / 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 medium potato, boiled, cooled and mashed
  • 10 gr / 1 tsp salt
  • 25 gr / 3 tblsp extra virgin olive oil plus more for top
  • 10 cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup black or green olives
  • oregano
  • course salt

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Directions


  • In a large bowl dissolve the yeast in half the water. Add the potato and mix in into the water. Then add the remaining water, olive oil, sugar and salt. Mix well.
  • Add all the flour and mix with your hands until smooth and elastic. When it comes together, transfer it to the counter and continue kneading, for about 8 minutes
  • Shape the dough into a ball, and place into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a cloth and let rise for about 3 hours.
  • Coat 2 pans liberally with olive oil. We found that using a cast iron pan worked best. Divide the dough in two, and, using your hands, stretch it out to cover the pans. You may have to let it rest for a few minutes, to relax.
  • Cover the pans and let rise for another 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 250/300C (500/600F).
  • Before putting the focaccia in the oven, brush the dough with olive oil. Add the tomatoes, crushing them with your hands so that the juices flow onto the dough. Scatter the olives as well, and using your fingers kind of push the tomatoes and the olives into the dough a bit. Season with salt and oregano and bake for 15-20 minutes.If your oven isn’t hot enough, it might take longer.

Enjoy!

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