Sunday, 5 December 2010

Focaccia con patate – Focaccia with potatoes

When I was last in Bologna, Federico Aicardi, singer and chemist, urged me to try his patent ‘yeast’. So I did and it was like something out of the sorcerer’s apprentice. His lievito produced a very impressive rise and a fine crumb but a focaccia double the normal height. Lievito Aicardi contains two small sachets, one containing cream of tartar (10g) and one containing baking soda (5g) which are mixed with a spot of warm milk.

Coarsely mashed diced boiled potato adds an interesting texture and flavour to the focaccia in this recipe. It toasts well so can be used for bruschetta or as an accompaniment to salami and soft cheese, a Bolognese favourite.


325g potatoes, peeled and diced

450g strong white bread flour

1 sachet of dried yeast or 2 sachets of Lievito Aicardi (or your version made up at home)

33ml olive oil

5tsp sea salt – for the potatoes, the dough and the topping

1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped


1. Set the oven to 200o C.

2. Boil the potato in salted water (2 teaspoons), drain and mash coarsely

3. Add the flour, 30ml of olive oil, salt (2 teapsoons) and the yeast to the potato and mix by hand or with a machine.

4. If using a mixer, slowly knead the dough for 5 minutes until it has become smooth and elastic.

5. If kneading by hand, it will take a while longer until the dough becomes smooth.

6. Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise for an hour.

7. Transfer the dough to a large flat metal roasting dish, greased with plenty of olive oil.

8. Leave it to rise for another hour then using your finger or the end of a wooden spoon create small depressions all over the surface and sprinkle over sea salt and the rosemary.

9. Bake until golden brown on top, about 50 minutes. When you turn it out to cool on a wire rack, check that there’s a hollow sound when you tap the bottom, otherwise put it back to bake for another 5-10 minutes.
Perfect with salami and soft cheese

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