Are you one of those people who will bookmark a recipe, but never make it?
I have an entire 3 ring binder dedicated to this unfulfilled habit. It dates back 10 years, categorized with colorful tabs and laminated pages. Yes, laminated pages. Plenty of thought and effort went into this creation and I barely even use the darn thing (hi, my name is Emilie and I’m a recipe hoarder). It’s like a show piece.
Anyway, focaccia has been on my to-do list for a while now. After spying some focaccia recipes online and leafing though my stash of crinkly magazine cut-outs, I was summoned.
Time to make focaccia.
If you’re new to bread baking, focaccia is an excellent place to start.
You don’t need a bread machine or sourdough starter. My focaccia requires two hands and fast-rising yeast. As much as I enjoy using sourdough in my baking adventures, there is a time and place for certain rising methods and here, commercial yeast suits me just fine. Not to mention, I have yet to dabble in sourdough focaccia so if you have any useful tips/pointers/comments drop me a line below.
To begin, mix all of your ingredients together in a large bowl- I squish everything by hand.
(Alternatively, mix the dough using an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Run the machine for 8-10 minutes on low speed).
Cover the dough with a damp kitchen cloth and leave to rise on your cluttered kitchen table.
Quick Tip: if you have to run out or can’t bake for whatever reason, stop here. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The dough will rise in the fridge (yes, even if it’s cold- just at a slower rate). When you’re ready, bake the following day in the morning. Bread baking can be adapted to suit your schedule- take advantage of this tip.
Okay, so moving on…
How long will the dough take to rise?
Rising time will vary.
If left out at room temperature, expect to wait anywhere from 1-3 hours depending on the temperature of your kitchen. The warmer it is, the faster it will rise. If you’ve chosen the overnight fridge rise 8-12+ hours is sufficient. For example: I made my dough at exactly 8 AM, took the kids to school, went grocery shopping, mailed something, and by 11 AM it was ready. Your dough should be 1 1/2- 2x it’s original size. Take a picture with your phone for a ‘before and after’ shot.
Quick Tip: poke a hole (gently) into the dough. If your finger mark stays indented, the dough is ready.
Place the dough into an oiled 9×13-inch baking dish. Gently stretch the dough extending all the way to the corners and sides. If there’s any resistance, the gluten is not relaxed; let it rest for about 10-15 minutes and try again. Then, poke holes into the dough and fill each one with a juicy cherry tomato. Really get in there and press it down so the tomatoes don’t pop off when baked.
Sprinkle with salt, pepper and a good drizzle of olive oil…
Let it rise again (the nerve!).
But only for about 30 minutes or so, this time. The dough should look slightly puffed and less dense before it goes into the oven.
Bake @ 400 F for about 35-45 minutes.
At the halfway mark, add some fresh mozzarella for a cheesy, melty crust.
Your focaccia is ready when beautifully puffed and golden, with blistered tomatoes…
Allow the focaccia to cool for at least 30 minutes before diving in. If you slice it too soon, the texture will not be light and fluffy (trust me). Right before serving, sprinkle with fresh basil and cut into squares. Take one bite and you’ll be transported to bread bliss… a heavenly pillowy inside with a crispy bottom crust. Enjoy!
What have you been making lately? Any recipe hoarders like me?
- The recipe below is (mostly) in grams. I find using grams is more accurate in bread baking. Also for accuracy, my ingredients are weighed using a digital kitchen scale.
- If using a glass pyrex baking dish decrease the oven temperature to 3375 F to avoid over browning.
- Recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver.com
- 500 g bread flour (not all-purpose flour)
- 2 tsp coarse salt
- 300 ml water
- 2¼ tsp dried yeast
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 1 8 oz tub of baby fresh mozzarella, drained and pat dry to remove excess moisture
- large handful of fresh basil leaves
- Lightly oil a 9x13-inch baking dish.
- In a large bowl, add the flour, salt and mix well to combine.
- In a separate bowl or glass measuring jug, add the water, yeast and olive oil. Mix with a fork to incorporate.
- Add the water mixture to the flour bowl. Get in there with your hands and squish everything together. The dough should come together in rough ball with little to no flour visible. You can't mess this up- just keep going until you've got a good mix. (Alternatively, mix the dough using an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Run the machine for 8-10 minutes on low speed).
- Cover the dough with a damp kitchen cloth and leave out at room temperature to rise. Your specific rise time will vary depending on how warm your surrounding temperature is. Expect to wait anywhere between 1-3 hours. Your dough is ready when it looks 1½- 2x it's original size. Take a picture with your phone to compare. (Alternatively, if you have to run out or can't bake for whatever reason, stop here. Cover the bowl of dough with plastic wrap and place into the fridge to rise overnight 8-12+ hours. Bake in the morning).
- When your dough has risen sufficiently and you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 400 F (if using a glass baking dish, preheat to 375 F).
- Place the dough into your oiled baking dish. Gently stretch the dough, extending to fit the corners and sides. If there is resistance or your dough shrinks back when stretched, the gluten is not relaxed; let it rest for 10-15 minutes and try again.
- Poke several holes into the dough. Place a cherry tomato into each hole (approximately) pressing down as you go. If the tomatoes fit snuggly they won't pop out when baked. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, and drizzle the top with olive oil for a nice, golden crust. Let the dough rise again but only for about 30 minutes or so, this time. It should look slightly puffed and less dense before it goes into the oven.
- Bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes. At the halfway mark, add the fresh mozzarella.
- Your focaccia is ready when beautifully puffed and golden. Remove from the oven and let it cool for at least 30 minutes- 1 hour for best texture. Don't rush this step- you want the inside to remain light and fluffy.
- When ready to serve, tear some fresh basil leaves over the top, cut into squares and enjoy!