Focaccia is an Italian yeasted, oiled and herbed flat bread which resembles a Pizza somewhat. Unlike Pizza, Focaccia is more about the bread than the toppings. The Focaccia is usually lightly topped with sea salt, herbs. Sometimes sun dried tomatoes, garlic or olives are added 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. The Potato Focaccia Pugliese is a potato topped Focaccia from the Puglia region of Italy. My recipe is adapted from a recipe I had saved from an ancient copy of the Femina magazine. The first time I made this was way back when I was still a novice bread baker. It turned out pretty good then and every time I’ve made it 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.
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. Pre-cooking the potato ensures it cooks soft in the time the bread bakes in the oven. Slice the potatoes about 1/4″ thick and partially cook them in salted water. Pat them dry before using them as topping.
I grow my own rosemary so I have a steady supply available. You can substitute with dried rosemary. In that case, you can try kneading half of it into the dough for better flavour. It is important to brush enough oil on the bread before baking to get a beautiful brown crust.
Potato Focaccia Pugliese
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 tsps active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 tsps honey
- 1/3 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil plus extra for brushing and drizzling
- 4 medium sized potatoes
- to taste sea salt and pepper (optional)
- 2 tsps fresh rosemary (use half the amount for dried rosemary)
- 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 (half an hour to 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 (450F) 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.