Cooking Class: Focaccia Pugliese with Katie Parla

Cooking Class: Focaccia Pugliese with Katie Parla


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Meet one of Italy’s most celebrated flatbreads, Focaccia. This olive-oil rich dough stems from the regional area of Bari and Pugliese towns, and is baked in iron pans at places like Panificio Fiore on Strada della Città in Bari Vecchia, then sold by the slice. In this hands-on conversation, we will learn how to prepare an authentic and scrumptious Italian recipe, while we learn about the history and cultural significance of this dish.

As we embark on our cooking experience, we’ll learn some top tips on how to achieve the best Focaccia at home. We’ll learn how the pan should be drenched in oil before the soft dough is stretched into place, so when it all goes into the oven, the dough practically fries in the pan as it bakes. This allows for the crispy sides and bottom that we have grown to know and love, including the pleasant oily touch.

Led by Katie Parla, a culinary expert and cookbook author, this interactive seminar will allow participants to craft the unique texture of Focaccia Pugliese at home. Designed for the Italophiles and food enthusiasts, this conversation will both educate, tantalize, and inspire future Italian cooking endeavors.

Below are the items you’ll want to participate in this class. We will email attendees the full recipe with measurements and instructions prior to the class, so that you can pre-measure ingredients before joining.

Just as Naples is the capital of Italy’s thick-rimmed wood-fired pizza pies, Bari and its surrounding Pugliese towns are known for a beloved regional flatbread, focaccia. An olive oil-rich dough is baked in iron pans at places like Panificio Fiore on Strada della Città in Bari Vecchia, then sold by the slice. The pan is drenched in oil before the soft dough is stretched into place, so when it all goes into the oven, the dough practically fries in the pan as it bakes, rendering the bottom and sides crispy and pleasantly oily.

To get the unique texture of Focaccia Pugliese, you need to bake with intense heat from underneath. Since the conditions of Puglia’s bakeries are difficult to replicate in a home oven, I suggest cooking the dough quickly on a stovetop, then transferring it to the oven. You will get the best results by using a frying pan or skillet with only metal and no plastic or wood parts for baking the focaccia.

This recipe features cherry tomatoes and olives, but you can use sliced onions, sliced potatoes, or raw tomato sauce seasoned with salt and herbs instead if you wish. There are instructions for using a mechanical mixer or for mixing by hand. Also please note that you can prepare the dough the day before and refrigerate it overnight if you wish, but be sure to remove the dough from the refrigerator a couple of hours before class begins so it can reach room temperature before baking.

Makes 2 (10 to 12-inch) focacce

  • 300 grams farina di semola rimacinata (I like Tumminia flour from Sicily, available from Gustiamo; Caputo brand is another option)
  • 200 grams bread flour (King Arthur is widely available)
  • 2 grams active dry yeast
  • 350 grams filtered water
  • 12 grams sea salt
  • 100 grams boiled, riced, and cooled potato
  • 50 grams extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling bowls and pan
  • 500 grams (about 1 pound) cherry tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • About 30 black olives, pitted (I like Gaeta or Kalamata)

Special equipment

We don’t list every item you’ll need here (e.g., standard items like knives, bowls, cutting boards). But we do our best to identify items that may not be in every kitchen and alternatives where possible.

  • A stand mixer (if not available, mixing by hand will work)
  • Kitchen scale (optional; measuring cups can suffice)
  • Baking stone or steel set for the oven
  • Metal frying pan or skillet (10-12 inch diameter pan is ideal)
  • Wire cooling rack

Katie Parla, a New Jersey native, is a Rome-based food and beverage journalist, culinary guide, and educator. She is the author of the Saveur Award–winning food and travel site KatieParla.com, the ebook Eating & Drinking in Rome, more than twenty travel guides. Her cookbooks Food of the Italian South, American Sfoglino, Flour Lab, and Tasting Rome are available wherever books are sold. Parla has appeared on Searching for Italy with Stanley Tucci, Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern and F*ck, That’s Delicious with Action Bronson. Her travel writing, recipes, and food criticism appear in the New York Times, Food & Wine, Saveur, Australian Gourmet Traveller, the Guardian, AFAR, Condé Nast Traveler, Punch, Eater, and more. She co-hosts GOLA, a podcast about Italian food and culture, and hosts Demi Community's Italian Eating Club.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 10 reviews
90%
(9)
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S
S.A.

Excellent presentation from Katie once again!

C
C.O.
Another great Katie Parla class

I always enjoy and appreciate Katie Parla. She is so knowledgeable and practical and easygoing. She inspires me to keep learning and trying her recipes.

K
K.C.
Always super

Katie is super knowledgeable. The recipe is easy to follow and her directions are good. Follow the instructions to make the dough at least 3 hours ahead of time and you can cook with her. Otherwise you are mixing while she is talking and you bake it off the next day. I liked the recipe and the frying pan hack. Mine turned out great.

S
S.W.
Great class

I really enjoyed Katie's focaccia class, very clear explanations and she teaches confidently creating a relaxed atmosphere.

S
S.F.
Informative and Fun!

This was a fun class. Katie provides great information, she's a pro at explaining the details (without over-doing it) and also at showing you just what you need to see on the camera. She takes time for questions. All in all, informative and fun!

Customer Reviews

Based on 10 reviews
90%
(9)
10%
(1)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
S
S.A.

Excellent presentation from Katie once again!

C
C.O.
Another great Katie Parla class

I always enjoy and appreciate Katie Parla. She is so knowledgeable and practical and easygoing. She inspires me to keep learning and trying her recipes.

K
K.C.
Always super

Katie is super knowledgeable. The recipe is easy to follow and her directions are good. Follow the instructions to make the dough at least 3 hours ahead of time and you can cook with her. Otherwise you are mixing while she is talking and you bake it off the next day. I liked the recipe and the frying pan hack. Mine turned out great.

S
S.W.
Great class

I really enjoyed Katie's focaccia class, very clear explanations and she teaches confidently creating a relaxed atmosphere.

S
S.F.
Informative and Fun!

This was a fun class. Katie provides great information, she's a pro at explaining the details (without over-doing it) and also at showing you just what you need to see on the camera. She takes time for questions. All in all, informative and fun!