This dense bread is topped with flaky sea salt, black olives, and sweet grape or cherry tomatoes. It is perfect just on its own, as a side, or sliced lengthwise and filled with some mortadella and mozzarella fresca.
Throughout Italy, you’ll find different versions of focaccia – an oven baked, dense Italian bread. This recipe celebrates the focaccia barese, a focaccia from the Puglia region of Southern Italy, and the traditional focaccia of my parent’s hometown in Molfetta. We ate this bread on Ash Wednesday to break fast after church services, and often during the holiday season.
This bread rises relatively quickly and is easy to assemble once the dough is ready. Your house will smell amazing as the olive oil cooks into the crust of traditional bread.
- 1 lb all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast OR 1 packet Paneangeli Mastro Fornaio + 1 tsp sugar
- 1 cup warm water (112 degrees Farhenheit) + 2 tablespoons
- 1/4 cup plus 1.5 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, separated
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1/2 can large black olives, pitted
- 2 tsp fresh or dried oregano
- Measure out 1 cup warm water. The temperature should be about 112 degrees Farenheit, but this temperature is easily achieved by letting hot water run from the kitchen faucet. In the water, dissolve active dry yeast and allow mixture to bubble, about 5 minutes. If using Mastro Fornaio, skip to the next step.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, salt, and 1.5 tablespoons olive oil. Using the dough hook, mix on low to combine ingredients. (If using Master Fornaio, add in one packet and one teaspoon of sugar here.) With the mixer running, pour in water and yeast mixture. Turn the speed to medium and allow dough to form a rough ball. If mixture is dry, add extra warm water one tablespoon at a time.
- When the mixture has formed a ball around the hook, turn dough onto a floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes. The dough should be supple and smooth, and should not stick to the board/surface as you knead.
- Oil a large mixing bowl, and place the dough into the bowl. Cover with saran wrap, and set in a warm place to rise for 2 hours, such as the stove, or inside the oven. In two hours, the dough should have not quite doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. A 13 inch cast iron skillet works best here, but you can use an 8 x 13 baking dish here. Pour 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil into the pan and turn the dough into the skillet. Drizzle some olive oil on top of the dough, or directly onto your hands, and then work the dough to the corners of the pan by pressing into the dough with your fingertips, dimpling the dough.
- Press tomatoes and olives into the tough. Sprinkle the top with salt and oregano. Let rise, covered loosely with a clean kitchen towel for 30 more minutes.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the top of the focaccia is golden brown. Note that the cooking time will depend on the type of pan you chose to bake in.
- Once cooled, remove focaccia from pan, slice and enjoy.