The best comfort food ever
Before coming to Puglia to spend your holidays, start your trip making yourself the delicious focaccia barese.
I’ll give you suggestions, tips and tricks to make and eat the tastiest focaccia barese as well as locals do.
Then we’re going to talk about tradition and local culture, because for us, “Baresi” (native people from Bari), a piece of focaccia is the best comfort food ever!
Well, it’s not the only one, but probably the most easy to get every day!
Local ingredients for a tasty result
Puglia is a very long region, located in Southern Italy. Actually, it’s the heel of Italy and it’s a Mediterranean Land.
There is a rich culture of street food, obviously made with local products due to Puglia’s position and climate.
In Bari, the focaccia is a kind of bread, seasoned with tomatoes, olives, virgin olive oil, and oregano. It is made with poor, very simple, and local ingredients.
The recipe I’m going to give you is made by two of the coolest Apulian food bloggers Fables de Sucre. I started following them some years ago, and every recipe on this blog is perfect, tested, and fantastic.
Before talking about the recipe, I want to tell you briefly what focaccia means for me and how and when the Apulians eat it.
My story and a piece of focaccia
When I was a kid, I used to spend some time with my granny who lived in Bari city. Usually, I walked with her and my elder sister through the streets of the city, and very often, she bought us a piece of focaccia from one of the many bakeries.
Obviously, my sister and I were waiting for that. For us, it was a gift, doubtless. So, from my early life, the rest of my days were marked by the smell and taste of focaccia.
Yeah! I know this is a funny story, but the smell that comes from baked focaccia is magical, you’ll see!
When I started cooking, the first thing I baked was a focaccia barese, and learn how to make it was a stroke of luck for me.
As I said before, the memory of the smell of focaccia often made my day absolutely better. So, chiefly when I was abroad and sad or melancholic about leaving my family and my land, I baked focaccia and ran into my comfort zone.
Probably you’ve never tasted a piece of Focaccia, but try to imagine do get a bite of something crispy but fluffy inside, delightfully tasty and flavored with baked tomatoes, olives, and oregano.
Making it yourself, you’ll try this feeling. It’s something very close to the perfect smell of the just-baked bread with the addition of oregano, which gives a plus to everything.
Behind the focaccia barese
Usually, in the land of Bari, people eat focaccia as a snack in the middle of the day, during a party cut in many and little pieces, or by the sea on a relaxing day on the beach.
Sometimes people eat it even as a main meal during lunch or dinner when they need to run into a comfort zone.
When you’ll bake it or when you’ll be in Puglia, remember there are many sorts of focaccia.
You can eat it basic, normally seasoned with tomatoes, olives, and oregano, or you can also stuff it with other delicious Italian typical products.
In Puglia, sometimes we love to stuff focaccia with some slices of Mortadella and Provolone cheese or Mozzarella, but also with many other kinds of cold cuts. Moreover, at various times in our life, we use focaccia as bread eating a proper meal.
Focaccia barese recipe
Ingredients (36 cm round pizza pan or baking pan):
- 500 gr durum flour or fine ground semolina
- 350 gr water room temperature
- 10 gr fresh yeast
- 8 gr white sugar
- 13 gr salt
- 25 gr extra-virgin olive oil (EVO)
- 5-6 red vine tomatoes, crushed, without seeds
- fistful of black or green olives (I used the local ones)
- q.s. oregano
- q.s. coarse salt
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, crumbled yeast, and half of water. Gradually stir in the remaining water, then add salt. Stir in EVO oil two times, mixing well after each addition.
When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a surface and knead until smooth and elastic.
Shape the dough into a ball, lightly oil a large bowl, and place the dough in it. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place (max 30°) until double in volume, about 3-4 hours.
Heavily grease a pizza pan with EVO oil and place the dough in it. Use your fingers to gently stretch the dough into the pan, then cover with plastic wrap and let rise again in a warm place until double, about 1 hour and a half.
Before baking, brush dough top with EVO oil, arrange tomatoes and olives over the dough, and sparkle with salt and oregano.
Bake at 220° for 20 minutes in a preheated convection oven, until the crust begins to golden brown. Serve still hot.
Watch the video and pics we made last weekend when I made focaccia for dinner. I didn’t use the proper baking pan and my tomatoes were a bit overcooked, but, actually, it was still a great focaccia. Some snags of being a baker and I’m really not a skilled baker!
After baked, we stuffed some slices with Mortadella and Provolone cheese and ate them for dinner combined with a glass of beer!
Despite my little baking problems, my husband Roberto and my parents appreciated it, therefore for me it was a successful result.
Do you already have mouth-watering?
Don’t mind about technical stuff, just put your hands into the dough and enjoy your typical focaccia barese in your own home.
Later, absolutely come to visit Puglia and taste the original one!
This article was written four hands, by myself and my sister who translated the Fables de Sucre’s recipe. We’re very far from each other. Writing this article was a way to feel together in a childhood memory for us!
Anyway, in the whole of Puglia, there are many different ways to make focaccia, this was the recipe we make in the land of Bari and next time we’ll talk about the other variations of focaccia.
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Thanks for reading!