This recipe was given to me by Graziana, a native of the port city of Bari. When she moved away from Bari, Graziana could not find any good focaccia, so she and her sister created this easy, no-fail recipe.
After learning how to make this focaccia at Graziano’s house and tasting it, I too am convinced that it’s the best focaccia in southern Puglia. It stands up to the best focaccia I have tasted in my travels to Bari.
Yield: 8 servings
2¼ cups (500 g) all-purpose flour (see Notes)
1 (0.25-ounce [7-g]) package active dry yeast
2 teaspoons (10 mL) sugar
2 teaspoons (10 mL) salt
2 cups (473 mL) warm water (105°-110°F [40°-43°C])
½ cup (118 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1 (14-ounce [392-g]) can whole tomatoes
2 teaspoons (10 mL) dried oregano
2 tablespoons (30 mL) capers
½ cup (118 mL) green or black olives (optional, but highly recommended)
Sea salt, to taste
1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt and mix well. Slowly add the water and mix with your hands, breaking up any lumps. When the dough is smooth (it should be almost runny), cover it with a towel, wrap the bowl in a warm blanket, and let the dough rise in a warm spot for at least 1½ hours. The dough should double in size and have bubbles at the end of the rising. If you want a thicker focaccia, let the dough rise for an additional ½ hour.
2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Generously brush the bottom and sides of a large baking pan with olive oil, leaving no dry spots.
3. Spoon the focaccia dough into the pan and spread evenly. Spread the canned tomatoes on the surface of the dough and sprinkle with oregano and capers (and olives, if desired). Sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle with a little olive oil.
4. Bake for 45 minutes.
For a crunchier focaccia, use 1¾ cup (400 g) all-purpose flour and ½ cup (100 g) semolina (durum wheat) flour.