Cherry Tomato Focaccia

My focacce have no claims to Italian authenticity. They date from the time when we were developing a range of flatbreads to add variety to the breads we had on offer to customers. They were designed to fit 11 inch pizza tins. They are handy because you can get away with a two hour prove as opposed to the usual three and a half and so can be sneaked into the nooks and crannies of the baking day.

Mix all the dough ingredients and knead using your normal method. If you’re new to baking check out the Sourdough pdf under the Library Menu.

Form into a rough ball, place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover. Allow to ferment for about four hours stretching each hour for the first three hours. This is not essential but will improve the dough structure.

Alternatively ferment overnight in the fridge.

Roughly shape the dough into a ball. Oil a pizza tray or similar, place the ball in the centre, folds down, and press out into a circle – not too far – the final diameter will be about ten inches – press it out about half way.

Cover and rest for an hour.

Press the dough out until approaching its final size – not all the way because adding the topping will press it out further.

If the tomatoes are large cut them in half lengthways. Press them into the dough cut side up – keep small tomatoes whole. Cover again and leave for a further hour.

Place two tablespoons of olive oil in a small bowl with the same amount of water and about a teaspoon of salt. Whisk until it forms an emulsion. Credit to Gareth Roberts, AKA Big G, for sharing this idea –

Preheat the oven to 250C. Oil your hands and press the tomatoes into the dough with the flat of your hands. Dip your fingers in the emulsion and dimple the dough all over. This should stop the centre of the dough ballooning when it hits the heat. Pour a couple of tablespoons of the emulsion over the dough. The theory is that in the heat of the oven the water will evaporate protecting the dough from burning in the first stage of baking whilst the oil goes on to give the dough that golden finish in the second half of the bake. Sprinkle the dough with a good scattering of basil or other fresh herbs. Bake for 20-25 minutes reducing the temperature to 200C after 10 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack.

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