Black Pepper Focaccia Pugliese

This Black Pepper Focaccia is adapted from a Focaccia Pugliese recipe made with potato and flavored strongly with ground black pepper. It’s the perfect snack with your favorite cheese, dipped into an Italian-inspired canned tuna dip, or sliced in half and used as sandwich bread.

Read on to learn all the tips and tricks I learned about making Focaccia Pugliese on a recent trip to Italy. Or just grab your best olive oil, hit that Jump to Recipe button, and let’s make a Focaccia Pugliese with ground black pepper!

black pepper studded focaccia dipped into olive oil next to focaccia on cooling rack.

Ingredients

flour, potato, yeast, black pepper, olive oil, and salt on a countertop.

Focaccia is a flat Italian bread known for its light, airy texture and olive oil-rich crust. It’s made with basic ingredients like flour, water, yeast, salt, and olive oil.

 

You’ve probably seen pictures of focaccia on social media decorated with intricate flowers and garden designs. A classic Focaccia Pugliese (focaccia from the Puglia region of Italy) is topped with halved cherry tomatoes, placed cut-side up in little dimples you make with your fingers.

The other characteristic of Focaccia Pugliese is the potato. Potato starch creates a softer, more tender crumb that helps this black pepper focaccia stay fresh for longer.

This recipe uses a full packet of instant yeast. That’s because the flavor in this Focaccia Pugliese comes from black pepper, the olive oil, and salt, so the rising time is short. Contrast this with a baguette or my pizza dough recipe where you need the longer rise for the best flavor.

Olive oil is a key ingredient too. Use this season’s best olive oil you can afford for dipping and ideally a great tasting olive oil in the recipe itself.

Please see the recipe card below for complete information on ingredients and quantities.

Variations and substitutions

  • Top your black pepper bread with a design. Or go for a more classic focaccia Pugliese with a pint of cherry tomatoes.
  • Swap out the black pepper for other herbs like chopped rosemary, oregano, or thyme.
  • Make this recipe in two 9 inch round cake pans.

Recipe tips and tricks

You can make this black pepper focaccia by hand or using a mixer, although the pepper in the recipe may irritate sensitive hands. It’s also a very wet dough, but you’ll get a great upper arm workout pulling the dough back and forth!

To make the focaccia, add all of the ingredients to your mixing bowl and mix. Scrape down the bowl once or twice to make sure the gluten is well-developed throughout the dough.

ingredients for black pepper focaccia combined in a shaggy dough.
smooth very wet dough attached to a dough hook in a mixing bowl.

Use a silicone spatula or scraper to turn out the dough into a 9 by 13 inch pan lined with parchment paper and drizzled with olive oil. This way you can easily cut your focaccia, and the olive oil creates a crispier bottom.

The binder clips are a trick for lining pans for brownies like my caramel espresso brownies. Don’t forget to remove them before baking!

Coat your fingers in the olive oil and press the dough from the center out to the edges of the pan to get a mostly even layer. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Thin wet focaccia dough in a parchment and olive oil-lined baking dish.
fingers pressing the focaccia dough into the pan.

Cover the pan with greased plastic wrap and put it in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour and half to two hours.

black pepper focaccia dough in the pan before rising.
black pepper focaccia dough after rising.

Liberally drizzle olive oil across the dough, sprinkle with salt, and dimple the dough in a regular or irregular pattern. There are no rules. Decorate the top of your focaccia, if you are so inclined.

dimpled black pepper focaccia dough drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt.

Bake until golden brown.

baked black pepper focaccia on a cooling rack.

What to serve with black pepper focaccia

This focaccia is best when hot, dipped into your best olive oil or with your favorite cheeses. My family also eats it with:

hand holding piece of black pepper speckled focaccia dipped in olive oil next to focaccia loaf on cooling rack.

Recipe FAQs

Is focaccia a flatbread?

A flatbread is a bread that’s rolled into a flattened dough and baked, fried, or grilled. Many flatbreads don’t have yeast, although some, like pita, are leavened. Most lists seem to include focaccia as a flatbread.

How should I store this focaccia?

This black pepper focaccia really is best when eaten right out of the oven, but you can store it at room temperature for two to three days. Freeze your focaccia for longer storage.

Where did you learn to make focaccia?

This black pepper focaccia is adapted from a Focaccia Pugliese recipe I learned from a chef named Luca in Treviso, Italy, where we also learned all about Prosecco and ate a lot of tiramisu!

What’s the best olive oil to use in this recipe?

If you can, try to find a place where you can taste extra-virgin olive oils. There is such a difference in flavor between ones you can buy in the grocery store and specialty stores.

Extra-virgin olive oil goes rancid after one to two years, giving things a metallic or bitter taste. Be sure to store your EVOO in a cool, dark place away from the stove!

Related bread recipes

Check out some of my favorite sandwich bread recipes from the Ugly Duckling Bakery archives, like:

Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-heart 💜💜💜💜💜 rating in the recipe card below. Let me know how much you loved it, or any problems you had, in the comments section further down.

Recipe

Black Pepper Focaccia

5 from 1 vote
Category: Bread
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 1 hour
Rising times: 2 hours
Total Time: 4 hours
Servings: 12
Calories: 221kcal
This Black Pepper Focaccia is adapted from a Focaccia Pugliese recipe made with potato and flavored strongly with ground black pepper. It's the perfect snack with your favorite cheese, dipped into an Italian-inspired canned tuna dip, or sliced in half and used as sandwich bread.
Print Recipe
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Equipment

  • Stand mixer

Ingredients

  • 1 small Yukon gold potato about 100 grams
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil divided
  • cups (562 grams) bread flour
  • teaspoons (1 packet) instant dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper up to 1 tablespoon, as desired
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt divided
  • 1 pinch granulated sugar
  • cups (400 grams) warm water

Instructions

  • Scrub the potato and add it to a small pot filled with water. Boil until the potato is soft when pierced with a knife, about 30 minutes. Drain, cool, and peel.
    1 small Yukon gold potato
  • Meanwhile, line a 9 by 13 inch pan with parchment paper (using binder clips to secure the parchment in place if you like) and drizzle with one tablespoon of the olive oil.
    ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Combine the bread flour, yeast, black pepper, two of the three teaspoons of salt, and pinch of sugar in a mixing bowl.
    4½ cups (562 grams) bread flour, 2¼ teaspoons (1 packet) instant dry yeast, 2 teaspoons ground black pepper, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, 1 pinch granulated sugar
  • Add the potato to the mixing bowl with a potato ricer or mash by hand in a separate bowl and add. Mix together.
  • Add the water to the mixing bowl and knead with the dough hook for about 7 minutes on a medium speed, scraping the wet, sticky dough down a few times with a silicone spatula to ensure even mixing.
    1¾ cups (400 grams) warm water
  • Scrape the dough into the prepared pan. Then, dip your fingers into the olive oil drizzled in the pan and push the focaccia dough evenly into the pan.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 90 to 120 minutes.
  • When about ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425℉.
  • Drizzle the remaining olive oil over top of the focaccia – you may need a little more or little less than the remaining three tablespoons, but you want to cover it completely. Sprinkle the remaining teaspoon of salt across the top, and use your fingers to make little dimples.
  • Bake for 30 minutes in the middle of the oven until the focaccia is a golden brown. Serve immediately if serving as a dip or with cheese, or let cool completely for sandwiches.

Notes

This black pepper focaccia recipe will make 12 servings for sandwiches that are about 3 by 4 inches.
You can increase the amount of black pepper to up to one tablespoon.
If you do not have a potato ricer, put the cooled, peeled potato into a small bowl and use a potato masher or fork to mash the potato completely.
This recipe can be made by hand, but you may want to wear kitchen gloves if you have sensitive skin. Knead the focaccia dough for at least 10 minutes, stretching it back and forth between your hands until it becomes a stretchy, elastic dough (I find it’s easiest to keep it entirely out of the bowl while I’m doing it). Add the dough to the prepared pan and use a spatula or bench scraper to scrape as much dough off your hands.

Nutrition

Calories: 221kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 583mg | Potassium: 111mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 0.3g | Vitamin A: 3IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 1mg
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