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Potato Focaccia

I’ve been a terrible blogger of late. It’s not that I don’t have heaps of photos and recipes sitting here – I’ve just been terribly bad at typing them up. Sometimes, I’m just not that thrilled with a recipe, or, sometimes it needs just a tad more workshopping. And of course, there are times where the space between making the recipe and eating all of it is quite short (as you can see, we’d already eaten half of it!). This is one such time, so I apologise for the photo but wish to assure you it tastes delicious.

I found it on Cook (almost anything) At Least Once – and it’s one of my favourite recipes and has been for over three years. The great thing is that you can top it with whatever you have on hand – parmesan, tomatoes, onion, thinly sliced garlic or potatoes. It’s a great bread to start with because it’s pretty foolproof and there’s only one rising.

Cut into 1-inch slices, it’s a great pick-at-it finger food for when visitors come around. If you’re feeling fancy you can add extra virgin olive oil and balsamic as a dip. It’s much quicker in a stand mixer, but I suppose you could do it by hand if you were comfortable with kneading dough – the dough is quite wet and sticky, so use a stand mixer if you have one.

Potato Foccacia
adapted from Karen Martini’s Where the Heart Is

1½ cups slightly warm water
1½ tsp dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 medium potatoes, pref Desiree (or substitute 100g potato flour and ½ cup water)
500g plain flour
1 tsp salt flakes
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
basil leaves, or other fresh herbs
150 grams cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 large red onion, sliced into 0.5cm rings
grated parmesan (optional)
olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper (for topping)

  1. Place the lukewarm water, sugar and yeast in a small bowl and whisk gently until yeast is dissolved. Let it stand for a few minutes to activate – you’ll know it’s done when it’s frothy. Don’t use hot water or you’ll kill the yeast.
  2. Turn on your oven to 100C for 3 minutes, then turn off – this is so there’s a warm space for the dough to rise.
  3. While the yeast is activating, boil the potatoes in their skins until soft. Use a potato ricer, if you have one, to mash the still hot potatoes. Place them into the bowl of an mixer with the dough hook attachment.
  4. Sift in the flour and salt (if you are using potato flour, add the dry potato flour to the plain flour and the water to the water/yeast mixture.) 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 – it should be quite sticky.
  5. Lightly oil a non-stick baking tray (25x38cm or 10.5×15 inches) and scrape 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. Use your fingers to push the dough out to fill the tray. 
  6. Place into the pre-warmed (but turned off oven) and leave to rise – add a small bowl of water to increase the humidity in your oven. 
  7. Remove the baking tray containing the dough from the oven, then preheat your oven to 180C. Cut up the toppings you are using and scatter over the dough, then drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes, freshly ground pepper and parmesan, if using.
  8. Bake for 30-40 minutes – remembering to rotate if your oven is temperamental like mine. Slice and serve while warm with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.