How do you get soft focaccia? The Italian secret is to add one potato to the dough. This foolproof traditional recipe will become the only one you ever need!
1 medium potato, skin on
12g dried active baking yeast
480ml lukewarm water, divided
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
800g strong white bread flour
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons salt
plenty of extra virgin olive oil, for the tin
8 to 10 large vine tomatoes
1 jar of pitted black olives in brine
1 tablespoon dried oregano
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Directions Preparation:20min › Cook:20min › Extra time:3hours › Ready in:3hours40min
Boil the potato in salted water for at least 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Peel the potato, place in a bowl and mash with a fork.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the yeast in 240ml of the lukewarm water with the sugar. Mix well and let stand for 5 minutes or until the yeast starts to look frothy.
Pour the flour into a large mixing bowl with the mashed potato (it has to be still warm, don't let it cool or it will get lumpy) and mix well with your finger tips. Rub together until you have an even mixture without lumps. Stir the 5 tablespoons oil into the yeast mixture, then add to flour-potato mixture. Add remaining warm water, a little at a time, until you create a soft dough. You may need to add more water if the dough is still too dry. Fold in the salt, then mix well and transfer the dough onto a clean work surface.
Knead the dough with your hands vigorously for 8 to 10 minutes or until it gets smooth and soft. Grease a clean bowl with a little oil, then add the dough and cover with a dump cloth. Set aside in a warm place, away from drafts (such as the oven with the light on). Let rise for 2 hours.
Generously oil one large baking tin or 2 smaller ones with extra virgin olive oil. Add the dough and press down gently with your finger tips, stretching it into the corners. Arrange the tomato halves and the pitted olives over the top. Brush the top with oil mixed with a few tablespoons of water, then sprinkle with a little salt. Cover again with a damp cloth and let rise for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.
Bake the focaccia in the lower rack for 15 minutes. Check that the bottom is golden brown by lifting up with a fork; move to middle rack and bake 10 to 15 minutes longer.
Remove from the oven, sprinkle with oregano and serve.
Focaccia is perfect for buffets and dinner parties. You can prepare it in advance, up to 24 hours, and keep it out of the fridge covered with foil. Warm in the oven before serving, if possible, and it will be perfect!