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Zia Silvia's Focaccia

Posted by TEAM TDSV on 2021-03-08
puglia italy focaccia terre di san vito uk

Focaccia alla Barese

Focaccia bread with tomatoes and olives from Bari
The focaccia from Bari is incredible! The smell, the taste, the look – words fail me! Focaccia, like everything else in Italy has its regional variations. Even in Bari, there is focaccia made with and without potato mixed in with the dough – you will have to try them all at some point and this is a great place to start.
The Focaccia Barese is unparalleled goodness! It is sold on every corner of the Apulian cities and is consumed at any time of day, from a snack on the street, to dinner with the family, from a picnic out of town to a snack at school! It is crunchy on the outside, soft a fluffy on the inside.
The last time I went to Bari, my brother and sisters begged me to bring some back so, on the morning of departure, off I went with uncle Franco to place on the seafront in Torre a Mare – overlooking the sea – called Panificio Montecristo. it is an incredible experience! You can smell the focaccia cooking from a mile away! I bought 8kg of focaccia, it was steaming hot. We drove to the airport and the aromas in the car were heavenly! I then had to put them in the case so I could check everything through. While walking through the airport – the aromas coming from the suitcase had heads turning and I’m sure stomachs rumbling!
Our auntie Silva is a genius at making this and this is her recipe. So if you can’t get to Montecristo, you must try this recipe.
For the dough
200 g of flour '0
200 g re-milled durum wheat semolina
100 g of Manitoba flour (which you can replace with 0 flour but I recommend you use for maximum softness)
300 g water at room temperature
150 g boiled, cooled, mashed potatoes
15 g of salt
2 teaspoons of dry dehydrated brewer 's yeast (4 g)
(alternatively 10 g of fresh brewer's yeast)
For the topping
500 gr of cherry tomatoes cut in half. Just before adding them to the topping, mix them with the extra virgin olive oil, salt and oregano.
15 - 20 black olives (remove pips if possible)
extra virgin olive oil
dried oregano
You will need approx 40 cm pan or two 30cm pans
Preparing the dough
In a large bowl, mix all the flours together.
 Set aside 95 g from the total and place in a bowl and add to the yeast and 100 g of water.
Stir it together until it forms a soft leaven. 
Cover with cling film and let it rise at around 26 ° (close to the oven is best) for about 2 hours or until it doubles in volume and is filled with bubbles.
You can proceed either by hand, combining all the ingredients in a bowl or with a mixer. Auntie Silvia always does this by hand but then that’s the way she was taught. Ahh.
Now combine the cold potato puree and flour set aside into the raised dough.
Mix with your hands or with the whisk. The dough is soft, so it should easily mix. Keep going until the liquid is completely absorbed and the dough has taken its shape.
Begin adding the oil little by little, spoon by spoon.
When all the ingredients have been mixed together well, add the salt.
The dough must be quite stringy, but it should still be soft.
Don’t overwork it as you don’t want it to be hard or too compact!
When the dough is ready pour it on to a cold work surface dusted with Manitoba flour.
Sprinkle some of the flour on to your hands.
 Bring the dough over so you are folding it twice so it is like an envelope or wallet.
With your hands still dusted with flour, give the dough two more folds.
The dough at this point should have begun to take shape.
Give the dough another two folds then with your hands of flour, turn it, make it into a smooth ball and put it in a bowl
Cover with cling film and let it rise (near a warm oven) until the dough of the focaccia triples in volume (about 3 hours)
Rolling out the focaccia
Grease your hands with a little oil and the pan/s. 
 Take the dough into your hands with the olive oil, wrap your hands around the dough so that it is all coated.
Spread the dough into the lightly oiled pan/s tapping with your fingertips, spreading the dough well.
Add the focaccia topping
Sink the cherry tomatoes halfway into the semi-leavened dough, alternating with some black olives. 
Cover the top of the focaccia with the tomatoes and olives and add the cherry tomato juice to give it extra flavour.
Drizzle over the top some of the extra virgin olive oil.
Sprinkle with oregano and a pinch of salt.
Let it rise for at least 1 hour and a half until the focaccia has doubled in volume
Cooking your focaccia
Using either a static or conventional oven – even better if you have a pizza oven in your garden! Heat it to 200 °. 
Place the pan/s with the focaccia on the bottom of the oven in contact with the base (if you want a nice crunchy edge) and cook for about 12 minutes. If the pan is small, 15 minutes.
After 12 minutes, transfer the focaccia to the medium-high part of the oven and immediately activate the grill, let it cook for another 6-7 minutes if the pan is small, or another 10-12 minutes if it is large.
Always do the necessary test: open the oven, if you can lift the crunchy edges with a toothpick – it’s ready!
Remove the Focaccia and let it cool for 5 minutes! Delicious hot or cold! Our focaccia never gets cold – it is gone in an instant!
Storing your focaccia (if you have any left!)
About an hour after cooking, seal it perfectly in greaseproof paper and clingfilm. This will keep it soft for up to 3 days at room temperature!
To serve
What can I say here – serve it in small squares for a starter, with your apperitivo or take a slice of mortadella, lay it on top of a slice of focaccia and enjoy!
Buon appetito!
Top tip:
Cut this into small chunks (which it is best to do alone as once cooked, it is so delicious, it will be gone before it reaches the plate!) it is wonderful as part of your aperitivo.
With your burrata.
With a slice of your favourite salami, prosciutto or my brother’s favourite – mortadella, over the top!
On the beach, at home or in a restaurant – a great alternative to bread and so much more deliziosa!
Serve our Focaccia alla Barese
with an ice cold Peroni or with a glass of our fabulous Terre Di San Vito Apeneste white wine.

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