Sharing today, crusty and fluffy Italian favorite Focaccia Flat Bread served pizza-style topped with fresh mozzarella, roasted cherry tomatoes, and generous coat of nutty Basil Pesto!
Serve it for an informal dinner party or as a lite pizza-style starter for game day! This loaded focaccia is perfect for both occasions! Oh, and it also makes great addition to Sunday Brunch!
Caprese Focaccia is my way to say 'good buy' to fresh flavors of summer and say 'hello' to delicious 'baking season'. I know you thinking, when everyone is busy sharing pumpkin recipes, this girl is still talking about summer? ;-) Well... well... this is influence of 'Sunny California', my friends! After long time, we finally had some much needed rain and it feels delightful....... Feels like summer is finally over.... as much as I'm loving this, I also miss the fresh flavors of summer.
So today, I combined my summer favorites caprese toppings on fresh home baked Focaccia to celebrate the transition!
Just so you know... Caprese Salad is a simple and fresh Italian salad, made of fresh mozzarella, ripe tomatoes and basil, seasoned with salt, and olive oil. The colors of caprese salad resembles the Italian flag: red, white, and green.
Good news is fresh mozzarella and cherry tomatoes, even pesto is available all year long. Only thing missed in late fall and winter season is fresh basil.
Season of fresh basil will end soon. If you too believe in freezing some basil for rainy days, I guess now is the perfect time to freeze.
TIP: Just basil pesto can be used instead of basil to serve this bread in late-fall or in winters.
Bega Dough Starter - Other than toppings, this focaccia is little different from classic focaccia. Basic focaccia is made with Instant Yeast and needs only one rise.
This recipe uses Active Dry Yeast and starts a night before with Italian-style fermented dough starter called 'Bega'. This fermented dough provides extra strength and airy-texture to the bread.
I started using 'bega' when I was working on my Ciabatta Rolls Recipe. Bega does need some labor of love to mix and leave for fermentation overnight. Longer it sits better and sour it gets and then it needs continues feeding. (that's all another post) However, for this batch, just need overnight fermentation. But, trust me, once you understand the light and airy texture it gives bread.... You would want to use it for every bread!
Now, I'm sure you thinking? 'Fluffy texture is okay, but focaccia always uses Instant Yeast and of-course yields a fluffy bread. So why so much effort?' Did I read your mind? ;-)
Actually, I love this bread so much that I have a recipe for every situation. I often serve Focaccia in my dinner parties. So these recipes really help. Okay, let me explain. Say...
1. When time pressed, have guests coming over tomorrow and I want effortless homemade focaccia, then Party-Friendly Overnight Focaccia
2. I don't want burden of double rise and want to ready an easy focaccia with Instant Yeast - Jalapeno Focaccia and Onion and Tomato Focaccia.
3. And now, today's recipe. I'm out of Instant Dry Yeast and want to serve Focaccia with some family-favorite toppings! Here we go with light and fluffy, low oil, crusty all-purpose Active Dry Yeast Focaccia!
I know, it's just mid of week and I'm sharing a Weekend Project :) But, I'm in weekend mood already! Wish you all a great Wednesday!
Few more focaccia variations from ChefDeHome's recipe repertoire:
- 1/3 Cup All-Purpose Flour
- 1/2 Cup Water (lukewarm water)
- 1/2 tsp Active Dry Yeast
- 1/4 tsp Sugar
- Focaccia Dough
- 3.5 Cup All-Purpose Flour (3 and 1/2 cups)
- 1.5 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Active Dry Yeast
- 1/4 Cup Olive Oil (plus 1-2 tsp for brushing on top)
- 1.25 Cup Water (1 cup and 1/4 cup, lukewarm water)
- Caprese Toppings
- 10-15 Mozzarella Cheese (pieces, fresh packed in water)
- 3 tbsp Basil Pesto
- 8-10 Cherry Tomatoes (haved)
- Basil (fresh leaves, julienne )
- Salt and Black Pepper (as per taste)
1. A night before, mix all ingredients for biga. Cover and leave at kitchen counter. Additional Notes: If it is very freezing cold temperature, leave in switched-off oven or microwave.2. Next day, transfer biga to a big mixing bowl, add all focaccia dough ingredients leaving, 1/4 cup of all purpose flour. Mix well with a rubber or wooden spatula.
3. With dough hook attachment, knead the dough for 4 minutes on high speed adding 1 tbsp of remaining flour at-a-time. Transfer kneaded dough into an oiled bowl and leave on kitchen counter for 1-2 hours or until doubles in size. Additional Notes: Or Transfer the dough to a work surface and knead for 6-7 minutes using the remaining flour to avoid sticking the dough.4. Once doubled, spread dough on a dusted sheet tray and stretch gently with oiled or floured hands to fit in a perfect rectangle. Cover with dry and clean kitchen towel and set aside for 30-45 minutes or until sheet pan is filled to brim.
5. After second rise. Brush the top with olive oil then with back of a wooden spoon, gently poke holes in Focaccia, 2-3 inch apart.6. Preheat oven at 450 degrees Fahrenheit (230 D Celsius). Place half sliced cheery tomatoes in each poked hole, cut side up. Sprinkle fresh cracked black pepper and salt on top.
7. Bake in preheated oven for 22-25 minutes until top is golden. Remove from oven and immediately transfer to a cooling rack.8. Brush with generous coat of pesto while bread is still warm. Garnish with sliced mozzarella and fresh basil.
- 9. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Focaccia is best when served the same day. Use leftovers within one next day.
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