Focaccia Barese

Focaccia Barese
  • Snack
  • easy
  • 8
  • 60 minutes, plus 6 hours and 30 minutes proving time



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Focaccia is the quintessential snack of Bari. Summers along the Barese coast wouldn’t be the same without focaccia – it’s the perfect beach food! – though the same could be said for mid-morning or afternoon snacks at any time of the year. Bakeries all over Bari have it on display from the wee hours of the morning while streets are filled with its tempting scent.

Filling yet easy to eat on the go, focaccia can replace a meal, though it’s most commonly eaten as pick-me-up in between meals or instead of bread.

The version below, with cherry tomatoes, olives and oregano, is the most common. Make it the day you want to eat it to enjoy it at its best.

Combine the three flours in a large bowl. Take 100g of the flour mix from the total and place it in a separate bowl
In another small bowl, melt the yeast in 100g water; whisk until completely dissolved. Pour it over the 100g flour mix and stir to combine. Wrap the bowl with cling film and leave it to mature in a warm, dry place for 2 hours
By this time it should have doubled in size and have lots of little bubbles on the surface. This is your starter. In the meantime, boil the potatoes until tender. Drain and mash with a fork then set aside to cool
From this point onward, you can proceed by hand or using a stand mixer with a hook attachment. Add the starter to the remaining flour mix. Pour over the remaining water, a little at the time, and fold through to incorporate. Next, add the mashed potatoes and knead until fully combined
Finally, add the oil, bit by bit, then the salt. The dough will be a bit sticky at this point, which is normal. Keep kneading either by hand or in the stand mixer until the dough appears smooth and very elastic, about 10 minutes
Dust a work surface with a generous dose of flour and transfer the dough onto it. Dust the dough with flour, too, then flatten it slightly and fold it over itself letter-style. Do this again with what’s now the longer side. Shape the dough into a smooth ball and place it, folded-side down, in a large bowl. Leave the dough to rise in a warm, dry place for about 3 hours
Use your hands to grease a baking sheet with a generous splash of olive oil. Take the dough and transfer it to the greased sheet; use the tip of your fingers to spread it all the way to the edges of the sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel and leave it to prove for 30 minutes
Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and season them with olive oil, salt and pepper. Scatter them on the risen focaccia, alongside the olives. Drizzle the surface of the focaccia with olive oil and sprinkle with dried oregano. Leave to prove for 1 hour
Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6
Place the focaccia on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until puffed up and deeply golden and cooked all the way through. Finally, place it on the bottom shelf of the oven for 5 minutes to crisp up the edges
Remove from the oven and allow it to cool slightly. Cut it into wedges or strips and enjoy warm or at room temperature
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