Tomato Basil Focaccia

A interesting twist on the delicious flavourful bread! This one is a great side and will get people coming back for more. Check out the video recipe after the break.


Thoughts:
This is actually my first time making any kind of bread. I always liked the idea of making my own freshly baked bread but never really got around to actually doing it. I mean who doesn’t love freshly baked warm moist bread? The idea was so enticing that a long time ago I bought some dry active yeast to get me into the groove of baking bread. But that ended in me messing up this recipe…more on that in a bit.

This is actually my take on a existing recipe by the awesome Gennaro Contaldo who makes amazing food is always a joy to watch. Him and Jamie Oliver made a cool video on how to make different kinds of focaccia and on the one Gennaro made he added basil leaves with chunks of tomatoes in it. I thought it was genius! It looked so good and the idea of having tomatoes in it to bite into was very appealing.

In my first attempt I followed the recipe in the video and got a great tasting bread, but it was super dense. But that’s because I’m an idiot and tried to use the super old yeast I bought years ago. I added it into warm water to let it wake up, but didn’t really check if they were actually “alive” and just poured it into the flour. So when it didn’t proof the first or second time I knew I was messed up. But since I was already 3/4 the way there I’d thought I’ll finish baking it and see if I like the flavour.

I liked the taste but wanted more flavour when I’m not biting into the tomatoes. So I added tried herbs and sprinkled coarse sea salt on top, along with generous helping of olive oil. I personally like this one better since I like my focaccia bread with a lot of herbs.

I hope you give this a try, and please leave a comment on how you would make it or what you would change.

Cheers


Ingredients:
500g all purpose flour (about 3 1/4 – 4 cups)
7g dry active yeast (1 packet)
325ml warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
Bunch of basil leaves

3 tbsp olive oil (to oil the pan)
Extra virgin olive oil (to finish)
Coarse sea salt

Directions:
Add the sugar and dry yeast into the warm water, then put aside for 10-15 minutes so the yeast can “wake up”. In another bowl whisk the flour, oregano, thyme, rosemary, pepper and salt. Once there is foam and bubbles on top of the yeast water it is ready. Add the olive oil to the dough along with the water and mix with a spoon till everything is incorporated.

Once together you can rather use a knead hook or your hands to knead the dough. If you’re using the mixer you will only 5-6 minutes, it will take you about 10-15 minutes to knead with your hands. You will want it to be very elastic. You can add a little bit of water or flour to it so that the dough that is a little sticky to the touch but still pulls away cleanly. If you’re using the mixer, you will want it to pull from the side of the bowl cleanly. Make sure to knead it a couple times after so that you can get a good feel of it’s elasticity.

Place the dough on a floured surface and cover it with the mixing bowl for 40 minutes to proof. You’re going to get an amazingly fluffy soft dough. Oil the baking dish with the olive oil and start stretching the dough with your fingers to fit it. Flip it over and start poking a bunch of holes to give it it’s signature crust.

Grab around 12 cherry tomatoes and cut them in half. Use the basil to poke a ditch into the dough and place a tomato inside. Repeat this until the dough is covered in a 4×6 pattern. If you have large basil leaves, you can cut them smaller. You don’t want them to stick out too much or else they’ll dry up and lose it’s flavour. Drizzle some olive oil on top and season it with some coarse sea salt. Place a wet tea towel over the whole dish and let it proof again for 45 minutes.

After the second proof you’ll want to bake it at 400F for 20-25 minutes, or until it’s golden brown. When you take the bread out, make sure you “feed” it with another drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and let it cool for at 10 minutes before you eat it.

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