Between my third and fourth year of college (I was one of those five-year plan students) I studied abroad in Italy. To say that I had an amazing time would be an understatement. Among the many things that I fell in love with, foccacia bread is high on the list. Words cannot describe how perfectly this bread is with it’s crispy, olive oily crust, soft center and pockets soft with oil. I had more than my fair share, at least a slice a day. That was a few years back now and believe it or not I’ve never attempted to make it at home. It just seems intimidating… especially to live up to those memories. I saw this recipe over on Lottie and Doof and decided it was time to try my hand at it. Let me tell you, I have fallen in love all over again.
Now, the foccacia of my past had only olive oil and salt on top, but with tomatoes in abundance and rosemary on my fire escape, they seemed like the perfect topping for this little foray. But first things first. Start with the dough, which is rather simple to make. Just some flour, yeast, a bit of sugar and salt and a healthy dose of olive oil. Cover it and forget about it for a bit if you can. After an hour or so, visit it again and place it in a round cake pan or cast iron skillet, give it some more olive oil and cover it with a towel for a while longer.
When you finally feel like you can’t wait any longer, it’s time to top it with goodies, meaning tomatoes, rosemary and you guessed it, olive oil. Oh, and of course some salt, I used my favorite Maldon. Into the oven it went.
When I pulled it out it looked like one heck of a beauty. The top was golden with oil and the tomatoes were just slightly charred, all of which seemed like the perfect combination for a party in my mouth. I’m not going to deny it, I didn’t really wait for it to cool. I dove right in and it was like tasting a memory. The bread was infused with olive oil, the tomatoes providing just the perfect amount of juice and the salt was a perfect compliment to the texture and flavor of the bread. If you’d like to take a little trip without flying to Italy, just whip up this recipe and pour yourself a nice glass of wine.
foccacia with tomatoes
adapted from Lottie and Doof who adapted it from Saveur
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar, divided
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
Maldon salt or Coarse sea salt
In a small bowl, combine yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 1/4 cup water heated to 115˚. Let mixture sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk together flour, the remaining sugar, and salt in a large bowl; form a well in the center. Pour in yeast mixture, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1 cup warm water; mix into a stiff mass. Transfer dough to a floured work surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Form dough into a ball and transfer to a bowl greased with 3 tablespoons oil; cover with plastic wrap and let rise until dough has about doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Heat oven to 475˚. Rub bottom and sides of a 13″ deep dish pizza pan, 12″ cast-iron skillet or a round cake pan with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Transfer dough to pan; flip to cover both sides in oil and flatten into the bottom of skillet with your fingertips. Cover skillet with a damp kitchen towel; set aside to let rise for 1 hour.
Gently create dimples in the bread with your fingertips so they cover the top, about an inch apart from each other.
Gently press tomatoes into dough and sprinkle with salt. Drizzle dough with remaining oil (3 Tablespoons). Bake until golden brown and cooked through, 30–35 minutes. Transfer to a rack to let cool slightly. Enjoy!