Tomato and pesto focaccia

So much pizza. In the last 11 years we’ve made so, so many pizzas that none of us are very interested in eating any, but focaccia is not quite pizza, not quite bread, still filling enough for a meal. Plan ahead a little. The poolish needs 12-18 hours before you use it. Once mixed, the dough will take another 2-3 hours before it’s ready to top and bake.

It’s too early for garden tomatoes or fresh basil here, but I did find mozzarella pearls at the store last week. Maybe you’re a pesto maker, maybe not. My preferred retail brand is that little jar made by Classico. I always carry a few jars with us when we cater pizza parties, just in case the fresh basil is unavailable or runs out before we’re done. It makes a perfectly acceptable substitute. On this focaccia I used a light layer of pesto over the whole focaccia, topped by cherry tomatoes sliced in half, quick-pickled onions, and lots of mozzarella pearls, which made it look like it was covered with miniature marshmallows.

To make this later in summer, brush a light coat of olive oil, flavored with herbs if possible, on the proofed dough. Scatter thinly sliced fresh tomatoes and sweet onions and finish with mozzarella pearls or shredded mozzarella.

— Joan, 5 June 2020

Tomato and pesto focaccia

POOLISH

  • poolish3/4 cup (170 grams) lukewarm water
  • 1½ cups (166 grams) bread flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 2 cloves minced fresh garlic, or 1 generous tablespoon roasted, mashed garlic

Mix all together in a bowl. Cover tightly and let sit at cool room temperature (around 60-65°F) overnight, or refrigerate for up to 18 hours.  If refrigerated, bring to room temperature before using.

FINAL DOUGH

  • 3/8 cup (80 grams) lukewarm water
  • 3 tablespoons (45 grams) olive oil
  • all of the poolish
  • 1½ cups (200 grams) bread flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Mix the water, olive oil and poolish in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle. Mix on low just to combine.  Add the flour, yeast and salt, mixing on low until all of the flour is incorporated.  Turn to medium high and knead for 5 minutes.  Turn dough out onto a 9″x13″ cookie sheet or pan sprayed with oil.  Oil your hands and stretch and flatten dough into a rectangle roughly the size of the pan.  Cover with an inverted pan or large container and let rest for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, stretch the dough out and back onto itself on all four sides, turn it over and pat back into a  rectangle, then cover and let rest another 30 minutes. Turn the oven on to 500°F at this point so it has an hour to get hot. Repeat the stretching and folding of the dough one more time, cover and rest another 30 minutes. Repeat this stretch and fold one more time, allowing 20 minutes or so to let the dough relax if necessary before fitting it to the pan. Cover and let rise till it’s almost doubled in depth and looks puffy.

dough Poke the surface with your fingers and brush dough with pesto. Place the toppings on it, cover again and let it rest for 20 minutes. Turn the oven down to 450ºF and bake for about 15-20 minutes, till top is golden brown.

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