Focaccia Barese remains one of those unique Italian dishes that has remained in my mind years after living in Bari. It’s crispy exterior parallels the fluffy interior while preparing both your eyes, stomach, and memory for years to come.
Walking through Città Vecchia in Bari you’ll feel the hot rough stones under your feet, see orecchiette being handmade by locals, and smell the glorious salty starchy salivating smells of focaccia. Stepping through the doorway of Panificio Fiore towards the lovely aroma wafting from the freshly baked dish meters from your tastebuds. Feeling the urge for more, you purchase a slice and step out of the paneficio into the shade.
Weeks after that first experience (and many slices of focaccia from various places around Bari), I was talking with a friend in Bari about how to make focaccia Barese (or Bari style focaccia). She explained that two varieties of focaccia Barese exist with and without potatoes. I adapted that recipe here (complete with measurements and full sentences). By including the potato, the focaccia becomes fluffy and moist. Moving north, you’ll find the version of focaccia from Genoa, which I’ve included here.
Focaccia Barese, The Recipe
You’ll find many varieties of focaccia in Bari. Some will make it with potatoes (to get a softer interior), others will add extra oil (to make it crunchier), and others will only add oil to the pan and on top of the dough. This means that the recipe here is not the recipe for focaccia Barese, rather it is a recipe.
All right, let’s get started with the steps on how to make this wonderfully delicious treat!
You’ll need the following ingredients:
- 500 grams of white flour
- 5 grams of active-dry yeast
- 15 grams of salt
- 4 grams of sugar (optional)
- 300 milliliters of hot water
- 1 small boiled potato (optional)
Prepare the Dough
Now, let take a look at the steps.
The fist step is to mix flour and semolina (see note) with sugar and yeast. Just like the potato and oil example mentioned above, you’ll find that many will use flour or a flour and semolina mixture. Without having surveyed I’m not sure how many Baresi actually mix grains. But talking to locals (who make focaccia), I’d wager that at most you want to use 250 grams of semolina and 250 grams of flour (so 50% of each).
Next, add water slowly while mixing the flour until the batter is easy to move, but not liquidy You’re looking for a homogenous mixture. The type of dough that you get when everything has come together, there are no “knots”, it’s loose but has a good gluten structure.
If you choose to do so, next you’ll add a peeled, boiled potato to the dough. You might find that the liquid in the potato adds too much moisture to the dough. If that happens, then add some flour. You’ll then have to knead again until the dough returns to a smooth dough.
Get Ready To Bake
Let the dough rise until it doubles (2-3 hours). In the meantime, oil the bottom of a pan/tray generously. This will keep the dough from sticking to the pan/tray and will give it a nice fry while cooking. I typically use olive oil since that’s what I’ve seen used in Bari. I’ve never seen it smoke and provides a nice flavor when the focaccia comes out of the oven.
Next, you’ll transfer the risen dough onto the pan/tray where you’ll stretch the dough evenly. This is your chance to add whatever toppings you’d like! Then, let it rise for about an hour. The dough will rise around your toppings. While waiting, preheat an oven to 250℃ (480℉).
Once the oven is at temperature, put the pan/tray in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. The dough will be nice and crispy. when it comes out!
Enjoy! Let me know what you think!