This bubbly, flavourful tomato focaccia uses a tip learned in the south of Italy- where the tomatoes are bursted by hand and pressed into the dough - creating pockets of flavour within the focaccia once it’s baked. Best of all, it’s extremely crisp in the exterior, whilst being soft, fluffy and rich in the interior.
This focaccia can be made in one, two or three days depending on how much time you have. It might go without saying, but the more time you give it, the more flavourful and bubbly the dough and therefore the focaccia will be, as it has the time to slowly develop (whilst in the fridge) as opposed to quickly rising (at room temperature). Having said that however, the focaccia will still be delicious and highly addictive with whichever method you choose to follow.
2 hours (+ rising time)
100g + 550g strong bread flour
120ml + 350ml warm water
7g instant dry yeast
1 tbsp salt
100ml olive oil
200g cherry tomatoes
In a large bowl, mix together 100g of flour and the yeast. Pour in 120ml of warm water, and use a spatula to mix the ingredients together until combined.
Cover the bowl, then let it sit in the fridge overnight (for best results) or for 2-3 hours at room temperature. This process helps develop as much flavour and texture as possible (and works in a similar way as feeding a sourdough starter does) so try not to skip it.
Once the mixture has rested, stir in the remaining 350ml of warm water and salt, and stir until incorporated. Next, add the remaining 550g flour and and stir for 2-3 minutes, until a scrappy dough comes together.
Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for 4-5 minutes. It will be extremely sticky at the beginning, and will become easier to work with as it’s kneaded. Tip: Oiling your hands or wetting them with water helps stop the dough from sticking to your hands as you work with it.
Oil a large bowl and add the dough into it. Drizzle the dough with oil - to prevent it drying out - then cover it. Let the dough rise in the fridge overnight (for best results) or at room temperature until doubled in size (around 90-120 minutes).
Once the dough has risen, press it down a couple of times with your hand to deflate it. Oil a baking dish and your hands, and transfer the dough onto it. You can also line the baking dish with parchment paper if it’s not non-stick.
Use your hands to spread and stretch the dough out along the baking dish. Drizzle it with olive oil, then let it sit to rise one last time, for 60-90 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 240˚C fan/ 260˚C conventional. Invert a large sheet pan or roasting tray and let it heat in the oven. The focaccia will bake on this heated tray, which will help it develop a good crunchy crust.
Oil your hands again and use them to dimple the dough. Next it’s time to add the tomatoes to the dough. Working with two cherry tomatoes at a time, use your hands to press them into the dough, squeezing them as you do so they burst open. This will create pockets of tomato inside the dough as the focaccia bakes. Repeat the process with the remaining tomatoes.
Drizzle the focaccia with more olive oil and sprinkle it with flaky salt. Let it sit for 15 minutes.
Transfer the focaccia onto the inverted baking tray in the oven. Bake the focaccia for 25-30 minutes, until deeply golden brown.
Let the focaccia cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife through the sides of it, then flip it onto a chopping board. Whilst it’s warm, brush it with 2-3 tbsp olive oil.
Let the focaccia come to room temperature, then slice it using a bread knife. The focaccia tastes best on the day it’s baked, but can be toasted in the oven which brings it back to life.
by Valentina Concordia
Valentina is our Food Editor, who dreams up our tasty dishes and recipes for our social channels. She has loads of experience cooking up a storm in Italian kitchens, so it’s no surprise she can’t live without good-quality olive oil (don’t come between her and her olive oil) and fresh pasta.