Excellent for appetizers or snacks, Focaccia Barese (or Semolina Focaccia) is not like any ordinary bread you know. Sweet, soft, chewy, and crunchy — you will enjoy it on its own as soon as it’s out of the oven. Simply delicious!
As typical of all bread from the region, they add semolina in the dough for that characteristic chewiness-in-every-bite.
Hence, it’s sometimes called ‘semolina focaccia.’
But what, exactly, is focaccia Barese?
It’s a thick focaccia named after the region’s capital, Bari.
It’s easily identifiable by the tomatoes (sometimes bursting) on top and its deep, golden color.
Every bite of focaccia Barese is a contrast of texture and flavor:
- the sweetness from the tomatoes and the subtle saltiness of the bread
- the crunchiness from the olive oil on top and bottom, but soft and chewy from the semolina and potatoes in the middle.
Yep, you read that right; some mashed potatoes are also in there.
Trust me; it’s absolutely delicious!
FOR MORE CLASSIC ITALIAN DISHES, YOU WILL LIKE THESE POSTS!
- Tomatoes – cherry tomatoes are excellent for making focaccia Barese, but you can use any small tomatoes as long as they’re juicy.
- Flour – your regular all-purpose flour will be great.
- Potato – if you have floury (starchy) potatoes, even better for making this semolina focaccia recipe.
- Yeast – as always, I use active dry yeast.
- Olive oil – I strongly suggest using extra virgin olive oil because it is a huge component of focaccia Barese.
- Sugar – granulated white sugar is all you need.
- Herb & Seasoning – dried oregano and salt, including coarse salt for topping.
- Semolina – you need to use ‘semola rimacinata,’ sometimes called Italian semolina.
Start making focaccia Barese by peeling and chopping the potatoes into equal sizes.
Place them in a medium saucepan and add enough cold water to cover them.
Bring to a boil and simmer until the potatoes soften.
Drain and set aside to cool.
Combine the yeast with sugar and three-quarters of a cup of warm water — set aside until foamy.
Using a large bowl, mix flour, semolina, and salt.
Use a ricer to break the boiled potatoes and add them to the semolina bowl.
Pour the yeast mixture.
Mix until you get a dough-like consistency.
Transfer it to a flat surface and knead until you get a smooth and soft dough.
Get an 8×10-inches tray and oil it generously with about two tablespoons of olive oil — coating your palms with olive oil in this process.
Flatten the dough in the tray, using your hands to push and extend the semolina focaccia dough.
Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside until it doubles in size — notice how the dough now covers the entire tray.
Preheat your oven to 200°C (375°F).
Chop the cherry tomatoes into halves and add them on top.
Drizzle the remaining olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt and dried oregano.
Place the tray in the oven for thirty-five to forty minutes or until it turns golden with crunchy edges.
Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack (carefully!) — and set aside a few minutes to cool.
Your focaccia Barese is now ready for slicing and serving!
- Make sure you drain the boiled potatoes; no need to add more water to your focaccia Barese dough.
- Since it is a sticky dough, oiling your hands will help flatten and stretch it into the pan.
- There is no need to stretch the dough to fit the size of the pan; it will automatically happen once it rises.
- Use as many tomatoes as possible; you can even overlap them if you prefer.
- When adding the olive oil on top, I find it easier to use a light dabbing motion with a pastry brush — make sure you dab between tomatoes.
- To keep the bottom of your focaccia Barese crunchy, transfer it to a cooling rack as soon as it’s out of the oven.
- Herb. Dried parsley is also excellent with coarse salt.
- Olives. I’ve seen some locals add black olives with the tomatoes.
- Whole tomatoes. You can skip the slicing of the cherry tomatoes and add them directly to the dough if you want. Note that they would generally burst while baking this classic Italian bread.
How to serve focaccia Barese?
As you can see in the images above, it should be eaten on its own.
Oh, wait, with a glass of wine, of course. 😉
It’s also excellent for making sandwiches — just add some Italian cured meat, cheese, and grilled vegetables.
Slice them in squares or bite-size for serving as an appetizer — take your pick!
So, how about it? Try this focaccia Barese recipe this weekend, and let me know!
OR YOU CAN GET MORE IDEAS FROM THIS LIST OF TRADITIONAL BREAD FROM AROUND THE WORLD!
Focaccia Barese Recipe (Semolina Focaccia)
- 1 medium potato (150 grams or 5.25 ounces), peeled and chopped
- 125 grams flour (about 3/4 cup or 4.40 ounces)
- 125 grams semolina (about 3/4 cup or 4.40 ounces)
- 2 teaspoon yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 15 pieces cherry tomatoes, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 & 1/2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
- coarse salt, for sprinkling
- Place the chopped potatoes in a medium saucepan and add enough cold water to cover them.
- Bring to a boil and simmer until they soften, then drain and set aside to cool.
- Combine the yeast, sugar, and 3/4 cup of warm water — set aside until ready.
- Mix flour, semolina, and salt in a large bowl.
- Use a ricer to break the boiled potatoes and add them into the same bowl with semolina.
- Pour the yeast mixture and mix everything until you get a dough-like consistency.
- Transfer it to a flat surface and knead until you get a smooth and soft dough.
- Oil the baking tray with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil — coating your palms in this process.
- Flatten the dough in the tray, using your hands to push and extend the focaccia Barese dough.
- Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside until it doubles.
- Preheat your oven to 200°C (375°F).
- Add the halved cherry tomatoes, drizzle the remaining olive oil, and sprinkle some coarse salt and dried oregano.
- Place the tray in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until it turns golden with crunchy edges.
- Remove from the oven, transfer it carefully to a cooling rack, and set aside for a few minutes to cool.
- Your focaccia Barese is now ready for serving!
- Cook’s Tip #1: Ensure you drain the boiled potatoes; the drier they are, the better.
- Cook’s Tip #2: Since it is a sticky dough, oiling your hands will help flatten and stretch it into the pan.
- Cook’s Tip #3: Keep the bottom of your freshly baked focaccia Barese crunchy by transferring it to a cooling rack as soon as possible.