Traditional focaccia recipe
When you think of Apulia, what comes to your mind? The sea, the sun, the olive trees and ... the Focaccia Barese! Tasting the Focaccia Barese is one of the experiences not to be missed during your holiday in Apulia. But what if your holiday is still far away? Try making the Focaccia Barese using the recipe we recommend below- you will experience the real taste of Apulia and you can cook it every time you start to feel nostalgic!
Recipe and secrets for the best focaccia barese
Focaccia Barese: The Origins
The origin of the Focaccia Barese dates back to the Phoenicians who kneaded millet, barley, water and salt and cooked it on stone in a round shape with olive oil, spices and honey. In ancient Rome, focaccia was a gift for the gods while during the Renaissance it was consumed at wedding banquets.
The birth of the Focaccia Barese is credited to the ancient bakeries of Altamura or Laterza; it was used as a variant of the traditional durum wheat bread recipe. One took advantage of the early oven heat, and was used to bake the bread- even though it was not yet the ideal temperature to cook it. Then they spread out the dough a bit, left it to rise, seasoned it, and baked it.
Variations of the Focaccia Barese: Thin and crunchy, with and without potatoes
The one-of-a-kind taste of the Focaccia Barese comes from simple and genuine ingredients. In the original recipe we find semolina flour, boiled potatoes, yeast, water and salt, accompanied by a generous amount of Apulian extra virgin olive oil. The mixture is left to rise in a round pan and then seasoned and cooked- preferably in a wood oven.
The original recipe for Focaccia Barese makes it thin and crunchy, topped with cherry tomatoes, plenty of oil, and calls for potatoes in the dough. There is a version of the Focaccia Barese without potatoes, which makes the dough softer and fluffier.
Today there are countless variations of the original recipe of the Focaccia Barese which can be seasoned in any way using vegetables, cheeses, meats, sauces and whatever else the cook's imagination thinks of...
The Focaccia Barese: Secrets for a successful recipe
To be able to obtain the best Focaccia Barese you need to follow some rules that will make the recipe the same as the original one:
- The yeast must be dissolved in lukewarm water because water with a very high temperature does not do well in the rising process.
- Use only extra virgin olive oil both for the dough and for greasing the pan: it will give an intense taste and give crunchiness to the outside and softness to the inside of the focaccia.
- The consistency of the dough must be very smooth.
- The dough should be spread in the pan using your hands and pressing with your fingers, while being careful not to create holes.
- The cherry tomatoes, black olives, and extra virgin olive oil must be prepared a little earlier in order to allow the ingredients time to blend together. The cherry tomatoes should be pressed lightly into the spread out dough.
- The oven must be preheated to about 250°C (480°F). The cooking of the Focaccia Barese will have 2 phases: for the first 10 minutes it should be placed on the bottom of the oven in order to make the base crisp. Then, the pan should be moved to the center of the oven and finish cooking there for about 35-40 minutes.
Focaccia Barese: Original Recipe
250 g (2 cups) remilled semolina flour
250 g (2 cups) 00 flour (all purpose flour as an alternative)
150 g (1 cup) starter yeast or sourdough starter- let stand for 3-4 hours (half a cube of brewer's yeast as an alternative)
350 g (1.5 cups) water
150 g (1 cup) boiled potatoes
200 g (1 cup) cherry tomatoes
Black olives to taste
10 g (about 2 teaspoons) salt
Extra virgin olive oil to taste
Oregano to taste
1) Sift and mix the flours
2) Mash the boiled potatoes and add to the flour along with the starter yeast placed in the center
3) Pour in half the water to begin to dissolve the yeast.
4) Continue to knead while gradually adding the rest of the water and the salt. You will need to obtain a well-worked homogeneous mixture.
5) Generously oil a pan of about 30-40 cm (12-16 inches) in diameter, or you can use two pans of about 25 cm (10 inches) and place the dough to rise directly in the pan (divide it if you use two pans).
6) Lightly oil the top of the dough and cover with a cling wrap, then leave to rise for a few hours until the height has doubled.
7) Once the dough has risen enough, flip it over and help spread it out with your fingers.
8) Push the pieces of cherry tomatoes into the dough and then place the olives.
9) Prepare a mixture with three tablespoons of oil, three tablespoons of water, and a nice pinch of oregano. Then beat with a fork and finally spread it out over the entire surface of the focaccia.
10) Let it rise for another hour and then bake it in a hot oven at 250°C (480°F)
11) Let it cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until the Focaccia Barese takes on a golden color
12) Remove the Focaccia Barese from the oven and eat it hot, at room temperature, or cold- it's always good!
Come to Puglia and learn how to cook the original focaccia barese!