This is another post for any of you serious bread bakers out there. Lately I’ve been obsessing over focaccia. It is a deceptive bread and it’s not until you taste an excellent one you realize there is so much more to focaccia than meets the eye. So much so that in Italy these breads are rarely made at home. Generally focaccia is left to the professionals who have not only the know how but also access to the best ingredients and really hot ovens. Focaccia takes patience, the best flour and absolutely the very best EVOO you can afford. It is an enriched dough after all, and it is the olive oil that makes all the difference. So use the good stuff and don’t be stingy! Click on any image to begin the slide show.
When it comes to Italian focaccia it is generally accepted there are two kinds worth knowing about. One from the north (Liguria), Focaccia Classica di Genova and the other from the south (Puglia), Focaccia Barese. I included a recipe for the Genovese version in my first book, Piano, Piano, Pieno for any of you who might happen to have a copy.
Focaccia Barese is made in and around the city of Bari in the region of Puglia. The authentic version uses lievito madre (sourdough) and is made with a combination of Tipo “0” and the semolata di grano rimacinata flour milled from sun-kissed durum wheat grown in Puglia. The starter is a stiff one and should be refreshed 4 hours before being used. I used 100 grams of liquid levain, 100 grams of semolina flour and 50 grams water for that refreshment. The curious addition of boiled riced potato to the dough gives it an intriguing flavour and enhances the shelf life. This focaccia keeps nicely for 2 or 3 days. The formula I used is the most official one I could find, from the Facebook page of the Consorzio della Focaccia Barese
- 200 grams stiff levain
- 300 grams tipo 0 Italian flour
- 200 grams semola di grano rimacinata
- 100 grams potato, boiled or steamed then riced or mashed and cooled
- 350 ml water
- 10 grams salt
- 50 grams EVOO
- 400 grams cherry tomatoes
- whole olives
- oregano, more olive oil and salt
- The dough is mixed, divided in two, rounded and left to ferment at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours on a well oiled tray. Most of this oil will be absorbed by the dough during the fermentation period. Spread more oil over the top of the dough and cover with plastic wrap. After the dough has finished the fermentation generously oil 2-32 cm (12 inch) round baking pans and transfer the dough to the pans. Press the dough out to the edges of the pans using the tips of the fingers of both hands. Crush the cherry tomatoes in your hands over the dough and spread them evenly. Place the olives and sprinkle the oregano oven the dough before drizzling more olive oil and sprinkling more salt. The dough is not given a final proof, it goes straight into the oven once it is shaped.
- Bake at 270 C or 520F for 25 minutes.
- When it is finished baking and still hot brush it with even more EVOO!
- If you don't want to bake both rounds you can retard one for up to two days.