Potato Focaccia Pugliese - An Italian Flatbread
Focaccia is an Italian yeasted, oiled and herbed flat bread which somewhat resembles a pizza. Unlike pizza, focaccia is more about the bread than the toppings. So focaccia is usually lightly topped with sea salt, herbs and sometimes sun dried tomatoes, garlic or olives such that they do not take your attention away from the bread. Focaccia is usually a rectangular bread though it can be shaped into a circle as well.
Potato focaccia pugliese is nothing but a potato topped focaccia supposedly from the Puglia region of Italy. I have no idea how authentic this recipe is, which I had saved it from an ancient issue of Femina.
The first time I made this was way back when I was still dreaming of baking my own bread. (Now I dream of baking the "perfect" bread!)
At that time, probably because I didn't know too much about "yeasty and bready" stuff, I ended up with a flat bread which wasn't even remotely related to a focaccia. Thankfully, matters have improved since.
At the beginning of the month, Zorra announced that Bread Baking Day was celebrating its second anniversary with a pizza party. I was mentally preparing myself to make pizza. when I saw that she had also mentioned that other similar flatbreads with toppings were welcome.
So it was time to revisit my focaccia recipe. When I last made this focaccia, I found that the potatoes were uncooked and very chewy, even though the focaccia had cooked.
So this time, I sliced the potatoes a little thicker (about 1/4" thick) and partially cooked them in salted water before using them as topping.
I have altered the basic dough a bit by substituting half the all purpose flour with whole-wheat flour. I also used a bit of honey to help the yeast along. I don't get fresh rosemary here, so I used dried rosemary instead kneading half of it into the dough.
This rosemary flavoured potato focaccia is very soft with a nice crust. It is so easy to make, takes very little effort, looks so pretty and tastes great.
- As I mentioned, I partially cooked the potato slices. So peel and slice the potatoes somewhat thinly (about 1/4"thick) and par-boil them in salted water (you might want to watch the salt here, if you're planning to use sea salt later). Drain and pat the potato slices dry. Keep aside.
- Dissolve the yeast and honey in about 1/2 cup of warm water and allow to proof (about 5 to 10 minutes).
- You may knead the dough by hand; I did it in my food processor. Put the flours, 1/3rd tsp salt, 1 tsp rosemary (if using dried herbs only) and oil in the food processor. Pulse a couple of times to mix. Add the yeast mixture and knead, adding just enough water to obtain a smooth and elastic dough. It should not be sticky.
- Place the dough in a well oiled bowl and roll the dough in the bowl to coat it with oil. Cover and allow to rise till double (about half an hour).
- Gently deflate the dough and knead a couple of times. Oil a rectangular tin (I used an 11" by 7" tin) and, using your fingers, press the dough out to cover the tin in uniform thickness.
- Using your fingers, dimple the top of the dough. Brush the top of the focaccia dough with oil. Sprinkle the rosemary (fresh, or remaining 1 tsp dried) and then arrange the potato slices to cover the surface of the dough. Sprinkle sea salt (if using) and freshly crushed black pepper.
- Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise for about an hour. Bake the focaccia at 220C for 30 minutes till the potato starts browning and the focaccia is a nice brown colour and sounds hollow when tapped.
- Serve warm as it is, or as a snack/ appetizer or maybe with soup or as part of a meal.