The Bread Baking Babes are back again and this month Elle has us making Potato Focaccine. The general impression is that Focaccine are smaller versions of Focaccia or mini-Focaccia. Try Google Translate and it will tell you that Focaccia is flat bread and Focaccine are muffins! I’m going with mini Focaccia for now until I find an Italian to explain this better.
You would know I like to dig up the stories behind recipes. I understand Potato Focaccine or Focaccine di Patate are typically made with mashed potatoes in the dough. Potatoes add softness to the dough. The practise of using potato in Focaccia or Focaccine dough is common in Italy especially in the Puglia/ Apulia region of Southern Italy. Potato Focaccine are generally considered a snacking bread, best eaten the day they’re made. They’re good for a day longer if wrapped in paper bags. These little flat breads are made much like Focaccia is, and flavoured with herbs, olive oil and sea salt.
November has been pretty busy here, with Diwali preparations. I just didn’t have very much time to make bread as well. We do like Focaccia very much so I did want to make these. They were also a welcome change from the festive food this season. So, let me tell how good these little breads are. I was baking them around lunch time and my daughter had just finished her lunch. She picked one off the cooling rack and ate it, declaring them very, very good. She might or might not have a second one right after!
Potato Focaccine are good as they are, warm from the oven with coffee or tea. These flat breads are usually eaten with wine in Italy, and is perfect picnic food too. You could make them with cherry tomatoes too, Apulia/ Puglia style. Italians might consider this sacrilege but try them with a sprinkling of Za’atar, if you’re game.
The choice of herbs for Potato Focaccine is usually rosemary or thyme but I used dried mixed herbs. I thought garlic went well in this mix though this is not typical for this bread. I always proof my yeast so my dough isn’t wasted because of inactive yeast. You may use instant yeast and add it directly to the dough.
I watched a couple of videos of people making Focaccine and they shape them by first rolling out the dough. Then they cut out small rounds using cookie cutters. Maybe this is why Google Translate dubbed them muffins. I found it easier to shaped them into rounds and press them out with my fingers. This also meant no left over dough scraps. I couldn’t get a read on the size of these breads. So I made mine a little under 1/2-inch thick and about 3 1/2-inches in diameter.
- 3/4 cup plain unsalted mashed potatoes
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp of salt
- 1 1/2 tsp dried yeast
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp garlic paste or to taste
- 1 tsp dried mixed herbs or rosemary or thyme
- More olive oil to brush on dough
- Sea salt for sprinkling on focaccine
- You may knead the dough by hand, or machine. Put all the ingredients including yeast (proofed or as is), except the extra oil for brushing and the sea salt, in a large bowl or bowl of your kneading machine.
- Mix. Then knead, adding enough water till you have a soft and moist dough that will be a bit sticky as well. Shape into a ball and place in a well-oiled bowl. Turn the dough to coat uniformly with oil. Cover loosely and let it rise for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or till double in volume.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Lightly knead the dough and then divide it into 12 equal portions. Working with one portion of dough at a time, press out each portion of dough with your fingers into approximately 3 to 4-inches round that is about just under 1/2-inch thick.
- Transfer them to parchment lined or lightly greased baking trays. Loosely cover them and let them rise for about 25 to 30 minutes. Using the tip of your fingers, press deep dimples into the dough, as for Focaccia. Brush the top of these with olive oil. This will create little puddles of oil on the dimpled surface of the dough. Sparingly sprinkle sea salt over this.
- Bake the Potato Focaccine at 180C (375F) for about 25 minutes till a light golden brown. Cool them on a rack. These are perfect eaten warm. They’re best eaten the same day but will keep for one more day if stored in paper bags.
The Bread Baking Babes are –