I love traveling from region to region throughout Italy as each region has its own landscape, dialect, and, best of all, specialty food items. Although we live in Umbria, Puglia will always own a piece of my heart as it is such a unique region. I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to visit Puglia many times over the past twelve years and have enjoyed as many of Puglia’s highlights as possible. Altamura is an interesting bustling town situated in the heart of the Puglia (Apulia) region of south-east Italy, best known for its cathedral and Museum of Archaeology. It is also known for its special quality of bread called Pane di Altamura, sold in numerous other Italian cities. I was lucky enough to visit one of the first bakeries in Altamura, making this fantastic bread for centuries in its huge wood-burning ovens. (See Photo Below)
On another trip to Altamura, I visited the town to dine with my husband at a restaurant recommended to us. We ended up in town early, and after seeing several shops, we decided to sit in one of the main shopping streets at an outdoor bar to have an aperitif before dinner. Along with our drinks, we were served slices of delicious focaccia topped with thin slices of onion, sweet cherry tomatoes, and flavorful black olives. The focaccia was golden bread, slightly chewy, and delicious. As soon as I returned home, I made my own version of this tasty focaccia that I now make often for family and friends.
For the ingredients in this recipe, I uses SAS Instant yeast which is my favorite yeast for making bread as it doesn’t require proofing. I also like to use bread flour when making focaccia as it gives the crust a nice chew. Use ripe, sweet cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced onion, and a flavorful olive such as Kalamata olive. A good quality olive oil is needed for the best flavor, and I use a coarse sea salt to top all of my focaccia breads. If you want a lighter focaccia with more holes, then wrap your bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, creating a slow rise.
An Altamura Bakery Where They Still Make Bread In Wood Burning Ovens
Deborah Mele 2022
- 5 1/2 Cups Bread Flour
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons Rapid Rise Yeast
- 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil Plus Extra For Drizzling
- Luke Warm Water
- 2 Cups Ripe Cherry Tomatoes
- 1 Small Red Onion, Finely Sliced
- 1 Cup Halved Kalamata Olives
- 1 Teaspoon Coarse Sea Salt
- In a large bowl mix together the flour, yeast, olive oil, and salt, then add just enough warm water to create a workable, shaggy dough. (About 2 Cups)
- Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 to 7 minutes, or until smooth and shiny.
- Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
- Place the bowl in a warm spot in the kitchen, and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Lightly oil a 15 x 10-inch baking sheet and press the dough in to fit.
- Press your fingertips over the top of the dough to create dimples.
- Drizzle the top of the dough with olive oil, arrange the tomatoes, onions, and olives, and then sprinkle liberally with sea salt.
- Let rest for 20 minutes, then bake until golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Cool to room temperature before slicing.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 281Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 426mgCarbohydrates: 48gFiber: 3gSugar: 1gProtein: 9g