Focaccia is a standard bread in the homes of many Italians. We learned this when we stayed in Puglia, which is in the “heel of the boot” of Italy. Here, focaccia bread is made fresh every few days and used as a snack, with meal or sliced and stuffed to make delicious sandwiches.
And, focaccia has been around here for a long time. It traces back to pre-Roman times, when facaccia bread was cooked in the hot coals of open ovens. The name focaccia actually is derived from the Latin word for hearth.
Back in these times, the bread was made simply with a coarse flour, olive oil and salt. These days, however, Italian focaccia bread comes in many forms. Ingredients uch as onions, rosemary, Parmesan cheese, olives or leeks have made their way into popular Italian focaccia recipes.
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One of our favorites is potato facaccia bread. Mashed potatoes are incorporated with the flour, resulting in a light, fluffy and moist bread. The potato starches actually react with the wheat starches chemically. This reaction results in a lighter dough which can hold more moisture, and less rising time.
Our version uses lots of olive oil, which is a common technique in Puglia. The estra oil enhances moistness, and also allows it to get crispy on the outside and stay nice and soft in the middle when toasted or grilled.
You can add your favorite ingredient to this basic recipe, making a rosemary or onion faccacia. Or, enjoy it plain and piping hot from the oven.
A special thank you to Chef Gianna Greco of Cooking Experience in Lecce, Italy. We adapted our recipe from her version that we sampled during a recent cooking class. More recipes and our story about our experience coming soon.