Focaccia alla Barese

Apulian Onion, Anchovy, & Olive Focaccia

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Preparation info

  • Makes

    one

    12 × 18 inch 30 × 45 cm
    • Difficulty

      Medium

Appears in

The Modern Baker

The Modern Baker

By Nick Malgieri

Published 2008

  • About

This is a traditional Christmas Eve antipasto in Apulia. Please don’t be repelled by the presence of the anchovies—they melt into the topping and add a pleasant note of saltiness, but no strong fishy taste. My dear friend and second mother, Ann Amendolara Nurse, taught me to make this.

Ingredients

Topping

  • Focaccia Dough
  • cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, about 8 ounces (225 grams), peeled, halved, and thinly sliced from stem to root end
  • 1 (2-ounce/50-gram) can anchovies in olive oil, drained and coarsely chopped
  • Salt (only a little because of the anchovies) and freshly ground black pepper
  • cup Gaeta or oil-cured black olives, pitted and quartered, see Note
  • cup Cerignola or other flavorful green olives, pitted and quartered
  • 4 light sprinkling of kosher or other coarse salt

Method

  1. While the crust is rising, prepare the topping. Pour about half of the olive oil into a 10-inch (25-cm) sauté pan and place over low to medium heat. Add the onion slices, and cook them slowly until they soften and begin to color lightly. Stir in the anchovies and cook 1 minute longer. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.
  2. Scrape the sauce onto a plate or glass pie pan and place it in the refrigerator for a few minutes to cool. Stir in the olives.
  3. When the crust is almost risen, set a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 425°F (220°C).
  4. Uncover the crust and use a fingertip to gently dimple it at -inch intervals (figure b). Drop spoonfuls of the onion mixture all over the top of the crust (figure c) and use a small metal offset spatula to spread a thin layer of the sauce evenly all over the dough.
  5. Sprinkle the topping with a few pinches of kosher salt. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil.
  6. Bake the focaccia until it is well risen and the topping is dry and beginning to color, about 30 minutes. Turn the pan back to front about halfway through the baking.
  7. Let the focaccia cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to slide it onto a rack to finish cooling.

Serving

Use a sharp serrated knife or a pizza wheel to cut the focaccia into squares. Serve the focaccia cut into 2-inch (5-cm) squares as an hors d’oeuvre, or as part of an assortment of antipasti as a first course.

Storage

Keep the focaccia loosely covered with plastic wrap on the day it is baked—if you’re preparing it early in the day for the evening, leave it right on the cooling rack. Wrap and freeze for longer storage. Defrost, reheat at 375°F (190°C) for about 10 minutes, and cool before serving.