Focaccia da Nonna – recipe revealed

Every culture has a different excuse for not sharing recipes: some want to keep the secret and tradition within their families, others like to be known for having something very unique about themselves (like Aunt Mary’s banana cake) , some put so much effort on nailing a dish that others will have to suffer until they deserve that knowledge. There are even the ones that never write recipes…

When comes to sharing recipes, it is ridiculous the countless stories that you hear and I know that this is even topic of some books out there:

Mum tells me that my grand-grandmother used to trick her recipes and leave out some key ingredients so people would never be able to recreate her dishes. When they would come to her to check on what went wrong, she would say something like: “weird…never happened to me. Maybe try something else next time”. Surprisingly they would never come back again.

My friend’s Nonna is getting old and apparently no one in the family can replicate her delicious dishes. She is now at an age where she forgets things and she never liked teaching others how to cook…What a shame!

I know a Middle Eastern / European guy that put together a website where both sides of the family could share their traditional recipes. Half of the women refuses to use the site and felt offended by the idea.

What about home cooks who make friends sign contracts so they don’t pass recipe forward? This is insane!

I have no doubts that information is power but let’s be honest: unless you have any business intention with your recipes, then what is the matter with you people?

Reality is, if you don’t share your recipe, sooner or later Google will do it on your behalf!

Nonna’s Foccacia

My childhood best friend Maria comes from a second generation of an Italian family in Brazil.
I grew up trying a lot of her mum’s fantastic food and now 20+ years later I started craving for some sort of “Italian bread” that I had numerous time while playing in her house.

This post is dedicated to Maria Helena’s mum, Elena Maria, who after years of no contact, didn’t hesitated to give me a copy of her hand written recipe.

And yes, it did turn out as beautiful as the ones that she used to make for me.

Ingredients

500 g all-purpose white flour (or Tipo ’00′ flour)
25 g melted butter
1/2 Kg potatoes, boiled and mashed
30 g active (fresh) yeast
1/2 egg
2 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 cup milk, warmed
a handful of all-purpose white flour (or Tipo ’00′ flour)
1 Kg tomatoes, chopped and seeds removed
4-6 garlic cloves finely chopped
dried oregano
grated Parmesan cheese

Method

Yeast preparation

Mix active yeast, sugar, warmed milk and a handful of Tipo 00 flour in a large bowl.
Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Dough

Place the flour on a board or in a bowl.
Make a well in the center and add the egg, melted butter, some salt and the yeast into it.
Add the mashed potato and knead it using your hands until obtain a smooth and elastic dough.

Sprinkle some flour on the dough, cover it with a tea towel and leave it rise for approx 1 hour.

Topping

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan and gently cook the garlic until softened.
Add the tomatoes, sprinkle some dried oregano and simmer it for a few minutes.

Assemble

Divide dough into 3 pieces.
Grease your hands with olive oil.
In a lightly greased baking tray, pat the dough into 1 inch thick circle.
Cover the dough with the tomato topping, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, dried oregano e a drizzle with olive oil.
Sprinkle it with more chopped garlic if you wish.

Bake in preheated oven at 180°C for approx 1 hour, or until the bottom is golden brown.
Repeat the process with the other 2 pieces of the dough.
Serve it warm.

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18 comments

  1. Lucia Pagotto

    Priscila,I loved it and make sure,but what kind eh flour “Ltd.”????????I swear I do not know….
    And na das questao “revenues” secret,I have an aunt that was a given and asked to not pass…boring pq can happen to someone who did something I esperimente,you can ask me and i?????Afff situacao chata….bjs

    • Priscila

      oi Lutcha!
      Pessoas como sua tia precisam visitar o blog e deixar um recado contrariando minha teoria!
      Farinha OO é a farinha italiana mais fina, prória para pães e massas. Mas no final das contas pode usar a farinha normal também e variar na cobertura se quiser. A receita original não mencionava o tipo de farinha não.

      bjs

  2. Michelle/Mickle in NZ

    Please thank Elena Maria for me, and let her know that her recipe has reached New Zealand down in the South Pacific. I’m really looking forward to trying her recipe – the resulting bread looks so delicious.

    Many thanks for sharing, Michelle

    • Priscila

      Thanks Michelle for visiting the blog. I’m sure she will be thrilled once she finds out how far a simple treasure like her recipe can go.
      Hope you enjoy making it.

  3. KC

    I loved the truthfulness of this article. My grandmother made a wonderful Hot Cocoa Pudding and every time we would ask her for the recipe she would leave something out. She passed away without passing it on to anyone in the family. In some ways she felt it was a prized secret and in other ways I think she, like so many women who stayed home with cooking/cleaning being their lives, wanted to keep something special/unique to themselves that others would come to them for.
    Really love your blog. Have a group of college kids from Brazil here at college that are eating at our home next week – serving them Texas sized meals and giving out recipes if they want them! :)

  4. Chi Chi

    Love your story, I agree wholeheartedly! Looks awesome, but I need help with the flour type. Pardon my western ways, but is this just any type of flour that is fine in texture? Just need to know what to look for, I can’t wait to try this!

    • Priscila

      Hi Chi Chi, that is right: I’ve used a type of white flour that is fine in texture, good to be used on breads and pasta making. But at the end of the day the original recipe didn’t specify the type of of flour so you can give it a go with the all-purpose white flour and that should work. I’ve updated the recipe with that option too. Thanks and hope it works!

  5. Nora

    Looks amazing!

    I have two questions:

    At what temperature do you bake it?

    What yeast did you mean by active (fresh) – the one that looks like a small “cake”, or the one that looks like sand?

    Thanks, I’ll be trying it this week!

    • Priscila

      Hi Nora, you can bake it at 180 degrees Celsius for approx 45min – 1hour (depending on your oven). I’ve used a fresh bakers yeast. It comes in blocks and can be found in the fridge of certain food shops (very hard to find where I live). The dry yeast for breads might work however not sure if it affects the flavour in any way. Cheers.

  6. Cris

    I’m sooo craving this focaccia right now! That’s not fair, a pregnant lady have to go to the kitchen and wait until this beautiful recipe is ready :)
    It looks amazing, I can imagine the taste!

  7. Tine

    Hi Priscila!
    Through Pinterest and searching for foccacia I ended up here. I must say yours looks unbelievably tasty! I’ve got a question though. In the list of ingredients you mention 1 and a half cup of milk, but I can’t see this ingredient in your preparations. Do I see a little recipee-secret here? :) Greets from Belgium *

    • Priscila

      Hi Tine, I’ve been away for a while so just saw your comments today. Thanks a lot for your visit to the blog and for pointing out a genuine miss in my recipe. It is updated now so hope you’ve managed to figure that out. If not, this one is definitely worth a try! All the best!

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