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Potato Focaccia from Genoa

Source: In Nonna's Kitchen
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Active Time:  15 Minutes
Total Time:  2 Hours 30 Minutes
  Serves 10
Don't judge this focaccia by others you have eaten because this particular one deserves a place all its own in the pantheon of fine breads. It comes from Luisa Cappelli, a resident of Genoa for decades, who knows that this focaccia's porous texture and delicate interior come from the fact that it is made with equal weights of potatoes and flour. Besides serving the focaccia at dinner or tea, Luisa cuts it into tiny triangles, fills them with butter and prosciutto, and adds them to the selection on an antipasto platter.
2 medium potatoes (1 scant pound)
1 cup milk
2 1/2 teaspoons (1 package) active dry yeast or 1 cake (2/3 ounce) fresh yeast
3 cups plus 1 tablespoon (14 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sea salt
10 to 12 leaves of fresh sage, finely chopped
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons for the pan and 1 or 2 tablespoons for drizzling over the top
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
Peel and slice the potatoes and boil in salted water until they are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, then mash them immediately with a fork or potato ricer, being careful to eliminate any lumps. Cool to room temperature.

Warm the milk to 105 to 115 degrees, sprinkle the yeast over the top, and whisk it in. Let it stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

BY HAND: Mix the flour, potatoes, 2 teaspoons sea salt, and finely chopped sage leaves together and put them on your work surface. Make a well in the center of the mixture, pour in some of the dissolved yeast, and begin to work in the flour mixture, alternating with the yeast and 6 tablespoons of the oil as you mix in the flour, until you have a roughly elastic mixture. Knead until you have a soft and elastic dough, 8 to 10 minutes. Roll into a ball.

BY ELECTRIC MIXER: Whisk 6 tablespoons of the olive oil into the yeast mixture. Add the riced potatoes, flour, 2 teaspoons sea salt, and sage leaves and mix with the paddle attachment until a dough is formed. Change to the dough hook and knead on low speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until the dough is soft and slightly sticky. Finish kneading briefly on a lightly floured work surface.

FIRST RISE: Set the ball of dough in an oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

SHAPING AND SECOND RISE: Brush 2 tablespoons of olive oil on a 10 1/2 x 15 1/2-inch baking pan with 2-inch sides. Place the dough in the pan and press it out to the edges. With your hands moistened in oil, dimple the top, leaving small declivities for the oil. Sprinkle coarse salt crystals over the top, letting them fall into the holes. Cover with a kitchen cloth, set in a protected part of your kitchen where currents of air can't affect it, and let it rise until half-doubled, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle a little more olive oil over the top.

BAKING: At least 30 minutes before you plan to bake, preheat the oven, with a baking stone inside, to 400 degrees. Place the baking pan directly on the baking stone and bake until the top and the underside are golden, about 25 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

CREDIT: In Nonna's Kitchen by Carol Field Copyright 1997 by Carol Field ISBN 0-06-017184-7

Recipe reprinted by permission of Harper Collins. All rights reserved.
Date Added: 01/01/2008
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Nutrition Facts per Serving
Yield:   Serves 10
Calories: 259
Fat. Total: 9g
Fiber: 2g
Carbohydrates, Total: 38g
Sodium: 818mg
% Cal. from Fat: 31%
Cholesterol: 2mg
Protein: 7g
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