I love making homemade focaccia. What’s not to like about delicious olive oil bread, crispy on the base, soft and airy in the middle and topped with sweet, aromatic tomatoes and Parmesan. I think breads like this one should be celebrated, they’re packed full of flavour, bright colours, are super simple to make and taste amazing! This focaccia recipe is the taste of summer but can equally be enjoyed with a big bowl of homemade minestrone soup when the cold weather arrives. Every single flavour works hand in hand, the sweet tomatoes with the fruity Parmesan and delicious herbs really create an authentic Italian taste.
The recipe was inspired by my time in Tuscany this summer. We tried this focaccia from a local panetteria near to where we we’re staying. We’d just got off our flight and were pretty hungry after an early wake up that morning (2 a.m and NO breakfast!). So by lunch time I was completely and utterly ravenous to say the least! But this focaccia caught my eye straight away. We continued to buy it for our lunch most days it was that good. So I knew as soon as I got back into my kitchen, I needed to recreate it!
This focaccia from my kitchen has exactly the same characteristics. Unbelievably soft and airy inside, with a subtle crispiness from the fragrant olive oil. A thin layer of Parmigiano-Reggiano, a layer of the sweetest tomatoes and then finished off with a good sprinkling of herbs.
500g (3 and 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon) strong white bread flour
7g (1 packet) fast action dried yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
50ml (3 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
300ml (1/2 pint) warm water – make sure it isn’t boiling
25g grated Parmesan (or another vegetarian alternative)
200g cherry tomatoes, halved
Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
1-2 teaspoons dried oregano
A few sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary
- In a large mixing bowl add the flour. Add the yeast to one side and the salt to the other. Add the sugar and then mix to combine.
- Mix together the water and oil and then add the flour. Using a wooden spoon mix together until a soft and sticky dough comes together. Then lightly flour a work surface and knead the dough by hand until smooth and elastic for 10 minutes. You can also knead the dough in an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment for 5 minutes.
- Once kneaded, lightly oil a bowl and add the dough. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size – this will take around an hour.
- When doubled in size lightly grease a baking tin (approx. 22cm x 32cm) with olive oil (1-2 tablespoons). Add the dough and press out into the tin until even – it doesn’t need to look perfect! Cover the tray and again leave in a warm place until doubled in size. (45-60 minutes approx.)
- Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C Fan / 200 degrees. Sprinkle the focaccia with the grated Parmesan and then poke the tomatoes into the dough. Sprinkle with the oregano and sea salt. Bake for 20-25 minutes then scatter over the thyme leaves and rosemary. Finish baking the focaccia for a further 5-10 minutes until it’s well risen and lightly coloured. Once the bread sounds hollow, remove from tin and cool on a wire rack. Cut up into squares and enjoy!
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