Focaccia is the ultimate snack in all of Puglia. Baresi eat focaccia at any time throughout the day, as it is readily available in the city’s bakeries from early morning, and its aroma permeates the streets. It is used to replace lunch or dinner, but it is also consumed anytime, as a treat. It is not uncommon to see people enjoying it on the street, being careful not to drop any tomato sauce on their clothes with each bite. Students bring it to school in oiled paper to have as a snack during breaks. It is taken to the beach and becomes the meal for a long day spent under the beach umbrella. It is the food consumed during football matches watched with friends. In short, from early morning until late at night, focaccia accompanies the daily life of Baresi people.
It is difficult to describe every taste sensation that Barese focaccia conveys. The only way to understand what we mean is to enter a bakery in Bari and buy it freshly baked, or try the recipe by Antonio Fiore found below.
To prepare Barese focaccia, pour the flour into a bowl. Set aside the fresh yeast in a small bowl, add 50g of water and mix with a teaspoon until dissolved. Pour the yeast water into the flour and start kneading. Then add the salt and the remaining water to dissolve it. Knead well with your hands until the dough is smooth, then add the sugar and continue kneading. Transfer the dough to a working surface.
Knead the dough until it is smooth, then give it a spherical shape, lightly dust it with flour, and cover with a clean cloth. Let it rise for an hour, away from drafts. In the meantime, wash the cherry tomatoes and finely chop them in a bowl.
Take a large 35 cm at the base and 5.5 cm high baking tray. Grease the bottom generously and transfer the dough inside. Flatten it gently with your hands, add oil on top, and make small holes with your fingers while continuing to flatten the dough. Spread the crushed cherry tomatoes evenly on top and add halved cherry tomatoes around them. Add a pinch of salt, black olives, and oregano. Let it rise for another hour and a half, then bake in a preheated static oven at 250° for 20 minutes. Serve hot or warm.
Barese Focaccia can be stored at room temperature under a glass cover for 1-2 days. Once cooked and cooled, it can be frozen whole or portioned. If the tomatoes used are not very juicy, add a little water. Instead of fresh tomatoes, you can use canned peeled tomatoes with little preserving liquid. If the baking tray is new, it must be greased and heated in the oven beforehand.