Foccacia Caprese (Focaccia Topped With Tomatoes, Mozzarella and Basil) – We Knead to Bake # 13

24th Jan, 2014

It is a lot of fun to bake; it becomes even more exciting when we are baking with a group. One such group with which we baked for a year and started another exciting new year together with lot of new members is We Knead to Bake. Due to popular demand and a voting system, Aparna chose this recipe for Focaccia. I have been really looking forward to baking this bread and I was really excited when this was chosen as the bread for the month.

I served it with some chunky tomato soup and it was one of the best dinners. This is very simple bread which is often confused to being the square pizza. It is quite different from the pizza though. Traditionally, the focaccia dough has the toppings kneaded into the dough whereas the pizza has it on top. Also Foccacia is a thicker crust when compared to the pizza and hence is much softer and spongier than the pizza, which is thinner and crispier. Foccacia also has quite a bit of oil kneaded in the dough and it is topped with more oil after being shaped, whereas in the pizza, there is no oil in the dough and is only added on the top.

In the olden days, focaccia hardly had any topping except for the oil and herbs along with some garlic, but with changing times and flavors, this is changing. This might be one of the reasons why it often confused with the pizza.

Focaccia Caprese is a focaccia topped the Caprese Style. ‘Caprese’ style refers to the style or the kind made in Capri, which is an island off the Italian coast near Naples. Capri is famous for its salad ‘Insalata Caprese’, which is made of fresh tomatoes, basil and fresh Mozzarella. As the name suggests, this focaccia has the topping of tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.

This recipe is adapted from The Kitchen Whisperer.

Preparation time – 20 mins plus 1 ½ hrs to rest the dough
Cooking time – about 30 mins
Difficulty level – medium

Ingredients – (makes 2, 11 inch focaccia which serves about 6)

For the dough –

  • Bread flour* – 3 ½ cups*
  • Warm water – 1 – 1 ½ cups
  • Instant yeast – 2 tsp
  • Salt – 1 tsp
  • Sugar – 1 ½ tbsp
  • Oil – ¼ cup (preferably olive oil) plus more to brush on top
For the toppings –
  • Tomatoes – 2 -3 large ripe tomatoes (sliced thin)
  • Fresh Mozzarella – about 12 oz (sliced thin to about 18 slices)
  • Fresh basil leaves – ½ cup (cut into thin strips)
  • Herbed oil – ¼ cup
To make the herbed oil –
  • Olive oil – ¼ cup
  • Dried oregano – 1 tsp
  • Dried basil – 1 tsp
  • Crushed red chili flakes – ½ tsp
  • Garlic – 1 tsp (finely minced)
  • Salt – to taste
Note* – if you cannot find bread flour use all purpose flour mixed with 1 tbsp of vital wheat gluten. If not, just use the regular all purpose flour.

Procedure –

To make the herbed oil –

  • Mix all the ingredients mentioned under the herbed oil and whisk it together. Keep it aside until needed. I made this well ahead of time (about 4 hrs earlier) to make the flavors combine.
To make the dough –
  • I made the dough in my stand mixer. You could either use the food processor or knead the dough by hand.
  • In the bowl of the mixer, add the flour, yeast, sugar, salt and oil and mix it to combine.
  • Now add 1 cup of warm water (and more if needed) and mix well to form dough. Knead until you have smooth and elastic dough (just short of being sticky). 
  • Shape the dough into a ball and place it a well oiled bowl, turning it over once to coat evenly. Cover with a kitchen cloth and let it rise in a warm place until double in volume (about an hour).
Shaping the dough –
  • I made the focaccia in my deep cookie baking tray and I made 2 medium sized (11 x 7) focaccia. You could also make them into 4 smaller ones if preferred.
  • Once the dough has rested, divide it into two equal parts and then stretch it out or roll it evenly to form a rectangle (about 11 x 7). It need not be perfectly shaped as focaccia is rustic bread and it is alright to have an odd shape.  Repeat the same with the other dough portion.
  • Place the shaped dough on to the well oiled baking tray. The dough might shrink a bit, so make sure that you pull it out and stretch to have uniform thickness.
  • Let the shaped dough rest for about 20 minutes. Now oil your fingers and then create evenly spaced dimples all around the dough. Brush the surface generously with oil.
Baking the Focaccia –
  • Preheat the oven to 410 F and bake for about 18-20 minutes until the focaccia begins to turn golden brown.
  • Take the focaccia out of the oven and then turn the temperature up to 450 F.
  • Lightly drizzle half of the herbed oil on top of the focaccia and then evenly split and arrange the mozzarella slice over the bread, leaving very little space in between.
  • Now arrange the tomato slices over the cheese and then sprinkle the chopped basil leaves over it. 
  • Drizzle the remaining herbed oil on top and the return it to the oven to bake for 6 – 8 minutes until the cheese begins to melt. Remove from the oven and garnish with more fresh basil leaves (if preferred).
  • Slice the focaccias and serve it when warm.
 

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