Thursday, August 10, 2006

Potato Focaccia

Spurred on by two great successes from Karen Martini's book "Where the heart is" I thought I'd try another recipe from the Beginnings section of the book. This recipe was one that attracted me from the start as it incorporated two favourites, bread and potatoes into a most wonderfully decadent focaccia. One of the good things about this recipe is that it is so adaptable - once you've made it the variations will be limited only by your imagination.

potato foccacia with tomato oregano and black olives© by Haalo

Potato Focaccia with Tomato, Oregano and Black Olives

2 medium Desiree Potatoes, boiled in the skin until soft, drained and use when hot (you can substitute any good mashing potato)
500 grams Plain flour
1 teaspoon salt flakes
1½ cups warm water
1½ teaspoons dried yeast
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ bunch basil leaves, torn
1 bunch oregano leaves, ripped
80 grams pitted olives, coarsely chopped (I used Ligurian - just don't use those rubber tyre wannabe olives that are found on pizzas)
150 grams cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
freshly ground pepper

Place the water and yeast in a small bowl and whisk gently until yeast is dissolved. Let it stand for a few minutes to activate.

Use a potato ricer, if you have one, to mash the still hot potatoes. Place them into the bowl of an mixer. Sift in the flour and salt. Using a dough hook and on the lowest speed, lightly mix these ingredients before pouring in the water/yeast mixture. Continue mixing on low speed until combined then increase the speed and mix for another 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic.

I have to add that this probably isn't a dough for a bread novice in that after 10 minutes it will be still be wet and sticky. Now the tendency would be to add more flour but just like gnocchi adding more flour will turn this bread into concrete. You have to just trust that the sticky mess will turn out fine. There's not many times in life when you can say that.

Lightly oil a bowl and place the dough inside, cover with plastic wrap and rest in a warm spot until it's doubled in size - around 45 minutes to an hour.

Lightly oil a non-stick baking tray (30x40cm or 12x16 inches) and scrap the dough into the centre of the tray. Because the dough is sticky if you lightly oil your fingers this will stop the dough from attaching to your hands and the oil also enriches the crust. Push the dough out evenly to fill the pan - don't forget to indent the surface this creates nice pockets for the topping to fill.

Cover again and leave to rest in a warm place until it's doubled in size again - about 20-30 minutes.

Make the topping:

Place the halved tomatoes, olives, oregano and basil into a bowl and mix in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and grind over with black pepper. Stir to combine.

When the dough is risen, scatter over with the topping mixture - I also finished it off with a couple of tablespoons of freshly grated Parmigiano.

potato foccacia with tomato oregano and black olives© by Haalo

Bake in a preheated 180°C/350°F oven for around 30-40 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

potato foccacia with tomato oregano and black olives© by Haalo

Set aside for 15 minutes then place it on a rack and return to the oven for 5 minutes to crisp up a little more - that should remove any excessive moisture from underneath the bread.

potato foccacia with tomato oregano and black olives© by Haalo

Slice and serve when still warm and if there's any left, you can reheat it in the oven. I must say that I've eaten this bread cold and it's still perfect.

potato foccacia with tomato oregano and black olives© by Haalo

This has to be one of the most delightfully delicious breads I've had in a while - you might be able to tell from the photos but the texture is sinfully light, the large bubbles give that away. There's a nice combination of crust and chewiness and the flavours from the toppings zing in your mouth. Maybe it should be called Pringles cause you just can't stop with one slice.


  1. Looks wonderful...I was watching Iron Chef America last night and the secret ingrediant was potato. They made some desserts with the potato. Can you taste it at all, or does it just taste bread-y?

  2. Hi Sara - there is a potato-ish taste to the bread, I'd say especially in the crust. You know that there's something different about it.

  3. Hello hallo! Do you think the potato bread would be way too hard for a rank amatuer?
    Your photographs are so amazing..
    Angèle (kabam)

  4. Hi Angèle and Thanks!
    I'm a firm believer in giving everything a go, that's the way we learn. The difficulty in this recipe is in the softness of the dough but if you keep yourself armed with the knowledge that it should be soft and trust in the dough, you should succeed. It's just not going to look like your typical firm bread dough but the result in the end is well worth the experience in making it.
    If you make it, please let me know how it turns out or if you need any advice in the process just send me an email!

  5. WOw Haalo,
    You've baked a real beauty there-I'd love baking breads, somehow havent got into trying. FOccasia is my fav bread and you've done a great job!

  6. Thanks Nandita - you should give it a go, the results are worth it!

  7. Foccasia looks great ! Looks like a great recipe. Thanks for sharing

  8. Thanks Krithika - it's a most delicious bread and one worth making!

  9. tried your recipe and was wonderful,thanks ever so much.

  10. Thanks Poornima - so glad you enjoyed it!

  11. This is the BEST bread i have ever made! it is delicious!! i love its chewiness. i also added garlic to the topping hehe.
    But i wonder how it will turn out if i don't put potato in it?? this yummy?

  12. Thanks Heba - if you remove the potato then it just won't be the same, the potato is what gives it those wonderful characteristics


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