My tomato plants are awesome. For all the crappy weather we’ve had this summer they kept chugging along, growing rapidly with all the rain. Once the hot weather hit they went crazy. I’ve been getting lots of tomatoes off of them this past week. As always, the question comes…what to do with them all? Cheryl has been buying focaccia at our local Saturday farmer’s market which gave me the idea for a classic combination, tomato basil focaccia.
I once again turned to my favorite bread source, Carol Field’s The Italian Baker, for the focaccia dough recipe. However, her recipe was for a lot of dough, enough to make three 9-10” focacce. I didn’t think we needed that many seeing as how it takes two of us a couple of days to eat just the one Cheryl brings home. So I halved the recipe figuring that would be enough to make at least one regular sized focaccia. It was.
Instead of using pie plates as in the recipe I decided to use a springform pan to shape and bake the bread. I think this idea worked really well, the focaccia is perfectly round and rose right up the sides giving it a nice thick height. I also salted the sliced tomatoes and set them on a rack for a half hour in order to ‘drain’ off some water so they wouldn’t make the top soggy. Seems to have worked!
A couple of minor things about this bread recipe. Since I was using a bit of extra dough for one focaccia I baked it a little longer, for 25 minutes instead of 20. Keep it at 20. It didn’t overbake but the edges and bottom are definitely more browned and a little drier than I’d like it to be. Minor quibble, still tastes good.
Secondly, I think in this case I could have let it rise longer for the first and third rises. As I’ve previously written, I tend to be impatient when it comes to allowing the dough to rise, always cutting it off when the recipe says so. And it’s been a while since I baked some bread so I also forgot to do the proofing in our oven with the ‘proof’ setting. Probably would have helped the multiple rises and given the focaccia a little more airiness.
Other than that, it was fine. I still have a lot of tomatoes left and coming off the plants, but using a bunch to top focaccia was a pretty good, tasty, idea.
Focaccia – (from Carol Field’s The Italian Baker)
- 1 ½ tsp dry yeast
- ¼ C warm water
- 1 C plus 2 Tbs warm water
- 1 Tbs Olive oil
- 3 ¾ C (500 grams) all-purpose flour
- ½ Tbs salt
- 4-5 tomatoes, sliced thin
- Enough chopped basil to cover the top of the dough
In the mixing bowl, stir the yeast into the ¼ C water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the 1 C + 2 Tbs water and olive oil and mix well.
Mix the salt into the flour and slowly stir in. Mix well with the dough hook and run mixer for 5 minutes until the dough comes together, is smooth and elastic. Hand knead on the counter for a couple minutes to finish if you like (I do).
First rise – place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 90 minutes.
Shaping and second rise – remove dough from bowl, cut into 2 equal parts (or keep as one large focaccia). Shape into a thick disk and roll out into a 9-10 inch round and place into an oiled pie plate. You can also make a rectangular focaccia by shaping into a…you guessed it…rectangle and placing in an oiled baking dish/pan. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
Dimpling and third rise – Dimple the top of the focaccia with your fingertips, leaving ½ inch indentations. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 2 more hours.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Lightly brush the top of the dough with some olive oil. Sprinkle the basil around making sure to cover the edges as well. Layer the thinly sliced tomatoes on top of the basil. Season with sea salt.
Bake for 20 minutes. Slide out of pan/pie plate onto cooling rack and allow to cool. Carol Field is pretty adamant about eating this one the day of baking and NOT refrigerating as it will ruin the bread. I don’t think that will be a problem!