Focaccia Pugliese

Anyone who truly knows me, knows that I have a thing for good bread — and by good I mean homemade, rustic, artisan type…because there is a lot of terrible bread out there! Growing up my mother would bake bread just about day and never bought loaves from the store. We would trade in our huge country loaf sandwiches that fell apart to our friends who had the whitest as white bread on theirs. Oh if we only knew how lucky we were then! Hence the origins of my love of bread as it is has been the center piece of our working kitchen in our home since I could ever remember. It’s so comforting and warm when it first comes out, it’s takes a lot of patience not to want to rip it open when a homemade loaf comes out!

This focaccia celebrates the rustic garden herbs and those delicate summer new potatoes. The Puglia region in Italy is known as the “garden” of the country, aptly so which is why is a staple of the region. The addition of the potato slices makes the bread extra moist and soft. It keeps the bread hearty and nourishing. Pair it with a rustic pasta or to your cheese and wine spread.

Focaccia Pugliese_ Alanna_ONeil_Maui_Photographer

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Ingredients

1/2 cup olive oil

3 garlic gloves, minced plus reserve a few to garnish

3 tablespoons of fresh rosemary, plus extra sprigs to garnish

2 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped

1 cup warm water

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 teaspoon honey

2 1/2 cups of durum or all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

black pepper

cornmeal

4-5 red potatoes, sliced 1/4” thick

olive oil

Maldon salt

In a medium saucepan add in the olive oil, minced garlic, rosemary, thyme. Warm the oil slowly over low heat for about 5-10 minutes, or until the olive oil becomes aromatic. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine the water, yeast, and honey. Stir and set aside for 10 minutes

Now add in the first cup of flour and 1/2 cup of the garlic and herb mixture, stir until combined and let it sit for several minutes to let the yeast develop.

Add in the last 1 1/2 cup of flour and salt and bring together to form a rough dough on a floured work surface. Knead for about 10 minutes by hand until it because a smooth, satiny dough.

Cover with a tea towel and let it rise in a warm place for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

For the topping, add a few tablespoons of olive oil to another sauce pan on medium-low heat. Once the oil is warmed, add the sliced potatoes to pan. Gently turn them with a spatula every 8 minutes so they do not break apart. They should remain a whole slice. Pierce them with a knife to know that they are cooked through. Set aside to cool.

Once the bread has risen and doubled in size, on a baking sheet or pizza stone, sprinkle a handful of cornmeal on the baking sheet with a few tablespoons of olive oil.

Flatten the risen dough onto the sheet in to a 1/2” rectangle. Let it prove for another 30 minutes.

After the second rise, spoon on the remaining garlic and herb oil, fresh sprigs of thyme and rosemary.

Add on the potatoes on top in whichever design you like, I prefer a rustic haphazard look :)

Sprinkle with Maldon salt if you have and freshly cracker pepper.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until the bottom is a nice light golden brown.

Let it rest before serving. Enjoy!