Bonci’s Focaccia Pugliese
Few things are as good as really well-made, fresh bread. That initial crunch, then the springy softness of the inside, perhaps still warm. Even better when it’s homemade and the smell of bread baking fills your kitchen and lingers throughout the house.
I’m lucky to have a passionate home baker as a husband. I love having homemade bread around but if it weren’t for him, I probably wouldn’t be able to get all the way through the process – these days, running around after a curious, walking one year old, it’s hard to even finish a cup of tea. So while I’m passed out after an exhausting day of following the baby around, husband, on the other hand is up late at night, mixing up a bowl of dough and putting it to rest so the next morning fresh bread is ready to be baked.
Focaccia is a favourite. An easy, forgiving bread, so charming in its rustic nature and so moreish. Sometimes it might be plain, sometimes topped with ripe tomato, sometimes it’s baked with a filling inside (sausage and broccoli, yes please), a little like a cross between bread and pizza.
This is based on Bonci’s recipe for Focaccia Pugliese, a beloved bread from Italy’s southern heel – thick, spongy and hearty. It’s amazing to think that this dough is 80% water. It’s delicious eaten while still warm – one of the benefits of making it at home – and it’s best eaten the day it’s made.
- 1 kg fine durum wheat flour (semolina)
- 5 gr of active dried yeast
- 800 ml water
- 18 gr salt, plus extra for sprinkling
- extra virgin olive oil for oiling and drizzling
- cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- handful of breadcrumbs
- about 1 tablespoon dried oregano
In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, water and salt. Knead the dough for a few minutes until it comes together. Place the dough in a bowl oiled with olive oil and leave in the fridge for 24 hours to rise.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface, folding the dough in half, turning 90 degrees, folding in half again, turning 90 degrees and folding in half a third time. This adds strength and elasticity to the dough. Roll it out to a thickness of about 2cm and place the dough in a large rectangular baking tray dusted with breadcrumbs, spreading to the edges. Arrange the cherry tomato halves on the top of the dough. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt and oregano on top. Let rise for another hour.
Place on the bottom rack of a hot oven (220ºC) for 15 minutes (this helps the bottom get nice and crisp) then move to the middle rack and continue baking a further 10 minutes. It should be golden and crisp. Cut into squares and enjoy your focaccia warm or that day.