Light, airy, and topped with Italian seasoning and mozzarella, this rustic and fragrant herbed tomato focaccia bread could stand on its own as a main meal. It’s that good.
Jot, share, and pin this one as we kick off tomato season, because you will want to keep it for your records when the tomatoes ripen and are good for picking.
Focaccia is a type of flat bread that is well-known in Italy and is traditionally topped with herbs and olive oil. More savory versions, including this one, are common in the United States. Don’t let this scare you if you’re a beginner bread-maker though, because this may be one of the best and easiest recipes to try as a newbie.
The hardest part of this focaccia recipe will be proofing your yeast. Ensure you are using the active dry yeast packet and not the instant or rapid rise kind.
In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast packet in some lukewarm water. Measure the water first to make sure it is between 105 degrees to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t have a thermometer, use your hand to gauge. If the water feels slightly warmer than your body temperature, then it should work.
Mix together the warm water, yeast and sugar and let it sit for 10 minutes in a draft-free place. I usually let the bowl sit in the microwave. If the yeast doesn’t foam, start this process over with a new packet.
To make the dough, mix together flour, salt, 1/2 cup of the olive oil and your yeast mixture.
Knead for 5 minutes. Having just got my new KitchenAid mixer last Christmas, I may have stared at it a bit too long while it was kneading the dough for me, but there is something magical about watching machines do the work for you. They definitely save you some effort!
When you’re waiting for the dough to rise, it’s best to place it in a draft-free, warm spot to help it rise quickly. I usually cover mine with plastic wrap and store it in the oven.
Dotting the focaccia bread or lightly puncturing it with the handle of a wooden spoon before baking it also helps contain the moisture in the bread.
The topping reminds me of pizza, but it’s definitely lighter in taste. Top with cheeses, pepperoni, seasonings, and tomatoes and it’s ready to bake. You can adjust the amounts of each according to your taste. Slice and serve the focaccia with marinara dipping sauce or eat it as-is. It’s too good to pass up!
Herbed Tomato Focaccia
Adapted from Anne Burrell’s Focaccia recipe.
- 1-3/4 cup warm water 105-110 degrees F
- 1 T. sugar
- 1 packet (2-1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
- 5 cups bread flour
- 1 T. salt
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil plus 1/4 cup for oiling the pan
- 1/2 T. Italian seasoning
- 1/3 cup finely shredded mozzarella cheese
- 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/3 tsp. garlic powder
- 3-4 (~1/8 cup) pepperoni slices, torn into bits
- 1/8 cup parmesan cheese
- 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes optional
- marinara sauce for dipping optional
In a small bowl, mix together the warm water, sugar and yeast. Set aside for 10 minutes. The mixture should foam. If it doesn’t, the yeast is not fresh. Start again with a new yeast packet.
Insert dough hook into stand mixer. In the mixer bowl, combine the flour, salt, 1/2 cup olive oil and the yeast mixture. Mix on low for 1 minute. Slowly increase the speed to medium and knead for 5 minutes until the dough is soft. Sprinkle in some flour if the dough is too sticky.
With your hands, round out the dough into a smooth ball. You can do this on a lightly floured surface.
Coat the mixer bowl with some olive oil and return the dough to the bowl. Add a few drops of olive oil over the dough and flip to ensure the dough is evenly coated.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in a draft-free place for about an 1-1/2 hours or until the dough has risen to double its size.
In a jelly roll pan like this one, pour a little less than 1/4 cup of olive oil to coat. It may seem excessive, but it gives the bread a crispy bottom. Place the dough onto the pan and using your fingers, stretch the dough out to fit the pan. Set aside in a draft-free place for 1 hour to let the dough rise a second time.
When the dough is almost ready, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. With your fingers or a wooden spoon, make impressions into the dough without poking through.
Sprinkle the Italian seasoning, mozzarella cheese, garlic powder, pepperoni, parmesan cheese, and pepper flakes over the dough. Press the tomatoes into the dough, spacing them out evenly with the cut side facing up.
Bake for 23-27 minutes or until the dough is golden brown on top. Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing into it.