Focaccia in Bari is an institution, is THE street food. We have it as a snack (merenda) in the morning or in the afternoon, we bring it with us for a picnic or at the beach, and there is no aperitivo in Puglia without focaccia!
As many of the Italian recipes, every family and every bakery has a different versions: we have the focaccia with potatoes in the dough, the fluffy focaccia, the crunchy focaccia, the focaccia with fresh tomatoes, the focaccia with cherry tomatoes, we have even the focaccia folded as a book.
In this post I share the recipe I usually do at home, after that Alessandra Barbone from the blog “I sognatori di cucina e nuvole” taught me a few years ago.
One of the most common problem when you bake focaccia at home is that the surface becomes dry. That’s because at home, the focaccia cooks at a lower temperature than in a professional bakery oven, and for a longer time. Alessandra shared a secret with me (a secret that comes from her friend Ornella Mirelli): a magic emulsion of water and olive oil, to distribute over the surface before cooking the focaccia. It helps to make the focaccia moister.
The other secret is that you have to put a lot of olive oil in the bottom: only doing this it develops a crunchy crust.
In Bari, the focaccia is cooked into an iron tray but I use an aluminium one (30 cm diameter) that works very well. Are you ready to bake?
Ingredients for 4 persons
500 g all-purpose flour
400 g lukewarm water
12 g fresh yeast
1 and 1/2 tsp fine salt
1 can of cherry tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil
Time: 1 hour + 2 hours resting
Dissolve the fresh yeast in half a glass of luke-warm water.
Pour the flour into a standing mixer, make a hole in the center, and put the dissolved yeast in the middle of it.
Attach the kneading hook and start the machine to speed n. 2. Pour the remaining water, incorporating it into the flour gradually. Add the salt and mix it into the dough, for a few more minutes.
Once all the water has been incorporated, you will have a soft mixture: let it rise in the same bowl of the standing mixer, for a couple of hours, covered with a lid, until it doubles. If you are preparing the focaccia during the cold season, I suggest to make it rise in the oven: this should be turned off but the light should be on, in order to develop inside a temperature of 28-30 C degrees.
After this time, transfer the dough to an aluminum round pan, well oiled (add at least 3 spoons of olive oil), 30 cm of diameter. Pour 4-5 spoons of the juice form the canned tomatoes over the surface of the focaccia, then add all the cherry tomatoes, pressing into the dough. Add a sprinkle of flakes salt and the origano.
In a glass (200 ml), prepare an emulsion with 2/3 of water and 1/3 of extra-virgin olive oil and pour it on the focaccia. Don’t be afraid!
Bake the focaccia at 250 C degrees on the bottom of the oven for the first 10 minutes, then move it up to the lowest level for another 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven and enjoy crunchy!