This tomato focaccia recipe is the most traditional focaccia recipe made in Italy’s “heel of the boot,” the region of Puglia. It is moist and airy, salty and tangy, and makes a delicious lunch or dinner accompanied by a large green salad or some slices of prosciutto or an Italian cheese board much like you would serve a pizza.
Focaccia is one of the most popular breads in Italy and much like many Italian dishes, it has different versions all over the country. In Bari, which is a port city in the Puglia region, the most popular focaccia comes with lovely fresh cherry tomatoes and a sprinkling of oregano. Other names for this type of focaccia are focaccia barese and focaccia alla barese. What’s more, is that this is not just popular in the city of Bari. It is also quite common to find in kitchens all over the region, particularly in the cities of Brindisi, Lecce, and Taranto. It is so good, you might send us a note asking how to stop eating it!
Focaccia is a type of Italian bread that uses a similar dough to pizza. But unlike pizza, it is topped only with herbs and seasoned with salt and some olive oil. Some variations of the recipe may have onions, cheese, and maybe meat. However, the most common topping for focaccia is rosemary.
Become an Italian bread baker with this fun and yummy recipe. You won’t need much in the way of kitchen equipment to make this delicious focaccia recipe.
Some bread recipes or focaccia recipes are complicated but this one for tomato focaccia is easy, it just takes a little time, about 4 hours 45 minutes from start to finish with a few longish periods of rise time and the bake time included.
Which ingredients do you like on your bread or pizza? In Focaccia Pugliese, you get not only the dimpled airy bread but also fresh cherry tomatoes and the lovely aroma of oregano.
Wash the potatoes, bring a pot of water to boil, and boil them until soft (photo 1). When they are ready, drain them and mash them with a potato masher until fairly smooth (photo 2). Set aside to let cool completely before combining them with the dough later.
In a bowl, mix the baker’s yeast with a large pinch of sugar and a little of the lukewarm water (photo 3) and wait for 15 minutes or until it bubbles and froths (photo 4).
Dough by hand: Place the flour in a big bowl and make a hole in the middle. Add the mashed potatoes, oil, salt, and finally the yeast water and stir together with a wooden spoon. Now slowly add the water a little at a time while you mix the dough by hand. Knead the dough by hand for about 10 minutes into a loose ball.
Dough with a mixer: Place the flour in the bowl of the mixer. Add the mashed potatoes, oil, salt, and finally the yeast water (photo 5) and start mixing with the dough hook attachment. Then slowly add the water a little at a time while you continue to mix the dough (photo 6). Knead with the mixer for about 5 minutes.
The dough is ready when it stays together but it is still fairly soft dough, it should never be hard. Form it into a ball and place it in an oiled bowl and cover it with a damp cloth or plastic wrap (photo 7) and leave it in a warm place for 2 hours, or until it has more than doubled in size (photo 8).
Drizzle a large baking sheet pan or 11-in | 28-cm round baking pan with a good amount of olive oil (photo 9). Spread the oil around with your hands on the bottom and sides, coating completely and getting your hands very oily in the process.
Take the dough with your hands, which are still very oily, and push it into the form until it is evenly distributed and has reached the edges (photo 10).
Let it rise for another 30 minutes in the tray.
Now cut the cherry tomatoes in half (photo 11) and press them into the top of the dough.
Add a pinch of salt, oregano and a drizzle of olive oil over the top of the focaccia bread and cover with plastic wrap (photo 12). Leave to rise again in a warm place for about 1 hour, it should double in size. About halfway through, turn on the oven to preheat to 430° F | 220° C.
Bake in the oven at 430° F | 220°C for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Put on parchment paper over a wire rack to cool slightly before serving.
Here are other traditional Italian bread recipes:
Yes, cherry tomato focaccia is a classic Italian flatbread that is sort of like a puffy pizza. They have been making focaccia in Southern Italy for centuries, with the tomatoes being added after their discovery in the New World.
Tomato focaccia is best served at room temperature. It goes great with big rich salads, soups, and charcuterie and cheese boards.
You should store the focaccia, once it has cooled to at least room temperature, in an airtight container for a day or two. You can put in a warm toaster oven to reheat for a few minutes before eating.