Focaccia with Fresh Mozzarella and Cherry Tomatoes

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Tell you kids tell your friends tell your neighbors we’re making  Focaccia with Fresh Mozzarella and Cherry Tomatoes today.

Bread is honestly one of those things that bring people together in the strangest of ways. The small humans always seem to show up to help when mom or dad are baking (and what we mean by help is lick, throw dough balls, and make sure to get flour into every crevice of your kitchen. 

Focaccia is a real beginner bread. We find that it’s very forgiving. All it needs is time, but its a hands-off dough for the most part. Aside from the occasional stretch and fold it really takes care of itself. You just need to be patient and give it the time it needs to develop all those beautiful gas bubbles that are synonymous with good focaccia.

We love this focaccia with fresh mozzarella and cherry tomatoes, it is such a great combination. The juicy tomatoes, creamy mozzarella, fruity olive oil, and sea salt come together to make the perfect bite. But feel free to change it up however your family likes it: Rosemary garlic? Plain? Red onion? Zaatar? The combinations are endless. Have it with salad, have it with pasta, or have it secretly in the kitchen at midnight while the monsters are asleep. Experiment, have fun, but most importantly EAT BREAD ITS GOOD FOR YOUR SANITY!

Overnight Rise VS We Want To Eat It NOW Rise:

The base of most focaccia recipes is fairly similar. Where they tend to differ is how they proof/ferment the dough and in the toppings. There is no denying that overnight bulk fermentation is the way to go to really develop the flavors, get a good amount of gas, and strengthen your dough. To be honest though when we decide to make this we always want it on the same day. So we are going to show you how to start a focaccia dough in the morning and be able to have it by late afternoon.

Toppings:

You can be a minimalist here and go for sea salt and olive oil or go crazy and experiment with whatever flavors you or your family enjoy.

  • Olives
  • Sun-Dried Tomatoes
  • Garlic – Rosemary
  • Raw or Carmalized Onions
  • Any Fresh herbs: Basil – Thyme – Rosemary – Tarragon – Sage
  • Parmesan
  • Zaatar

Foccacia has been having an extra moment during this COVID Pandemic. We have seen people put everything on focaccia even fruit; peaches with burrata arugula, blueberry. Experiment Have fun!

HERE IS WHAT YOU WILL NEED :

Let’s Make Our Focaccia with Fresh Mozzarella and Cherry Tomatoes:

First, we’re going to combine the flour and yeast into a large bowl. Using your hands just give it a mix to incorporate the two ingredients together. Then go ahead and make a well in the middle of your bowl. You can set this aside while we prepare the wet ingredients.

In a small bowl add water that you have warmed to 38-40°C degrees (use a thermometer, or just stick your finger into the water you’re looking for something that is just a touch warmer than you). Add your salt and mix until dissolved. Add this mixture to the well in your flour + yeast mixture. Drizzle in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Then, using your hand start to bring your dry and wet ingredients together. It will look and feel wet and sticky, that’s exactly how it should be. You might need to add an extra tablespoon or 2 of room temperature water to get the desired consistency. Different climates and flour brands might respond differently. Remember we are looking for a well-hydrated dough here.

First Dough Rise: Grease another medium-sized bowl with olive oil and gently push your dough mixture into it. Grab a quarter size section of the dough pull up and fold it onto itself. Continue in a circle until you have made one full rotation. Then cover with a damp towel for 20 minutes. Remove the towel and repeat the circular folding this time going around 3 to 4 full rotations until the dough is smooth and resists when poked (looks like a ball of mozzarella)*. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for one hour in a warm place (outside or in your oven with the light turned on).
*FOR OVERNIGHT BULK FERMENTATION: When you are done both rounds of stretch and folds cover your dough with tight cling film and place in your refrigerator to ferment overnight. If you chose this method skip (Second Dough Rise) and go straight to (Third Rise in Baking Pan).

AFTER 20 MINUTE REST

Second Dough Rise: Remove the towel. And repeat the stretch and fold technique in a circular pattern for another 3 full rotations. If you cant see olive oil in your bowl drizzle another tablespoon or 2 on top of your dough. Cover again with the damp towel and let rest for another hour in a warm place (outside or in your oven with the light turned on).

Third Rise in Baking Pan: The dough should have doubled in size by now. If not, let rest until doubled. Prepare a 23 x 29 cm (9 x 13 inch ) baking pan with a generous amount of olive oil. Give the dough one more stretch and fold for 1 full rotation. Then gently drop the dough into the pan carefully, as we do not want to degas the dough. Generously cover your hands with olive oil and start gently working it into the corner of your pan. If your dough resists and keeps coming back to the center, ours did, cover again with a damp towel, and let rest for 10 min. Come back and try again repeating the 10 min resting if needed until you get it into the corners of your pan. Cover with a damp towel and let rise again for 1 hour in a warm place (outside or in your oven with the light turned on).

Last Rise: Remove towel. Prepare a small bowl of water with a tablespoon of sea salt. Dip your fingers into the sea-salt water and start to poke your focaccia dough to help distribute the gas bubbles evenly. This is called dimpling and we need to dimple the whole dough. Cover one more time with a damp towel and let it proof in a warm place (outside or in your oven with the light turned on) for 20-30 minutes while your oven preheats.

Preheat your oven to 230°C. It takes about 20 to 30 min for the oven to get to the correct temperature. After 30 minutes remove the damp towel, the focaccia should have risen about ½ – ⅔ of the pan. If it has not risen to ½ – ⅔ of the pan, let it keep proofing for an extra 30 minutes or until it reaches ½ – ⅔ of the pan. Drizzle some ¼ cut cherry tomatoes with3 tablespoons of olive oil and ½ a teaspoon of coarse sea salt. Place the tomatoes one by one into the holes that we made earlier. Drizzle the focaccia with the residual olive oil from the bowl and add an extra drizzle all over. Top with flaky sea salt.

Bake: Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes. The bread is ready when it has formed a golden crust. To double-check, the internal temperature of the bread should hit at least 85° C. Immediately place pieces of fresh mozzarella on top of the focaccia so it can melt. Drizzle some extra olive oil on top, cut, and serve.

If you try this Focaccia with Fresh Mozzarella and Cherry Tomatoes, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #thetablediaries on Instagram. We love seeing all the recipes you and your family enjoy. What flavor combinations will you come up with?

Focaccia with Fresh Mozzarella and Cherry Tomatoes

Servings 10 people
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Resting Time 3 hrs 20 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 50 mins

Ingredients

  • 600 grams all-purpose flour 4½ cups spooned and leveled
  • 2 tbsp olive oil plus 2-3 tbsp for proofing as needed
  • 2 cups warm water (38-40°C)
  • ¾ tsp coarse sea salt
  • ¼ tsp instant yeast or active dry yeast
  • 1 235g Fresh Mozzerella Ball

For Cherry Tomatoes

  • 150 grams quarter cut cherry tomatoes 1 cup
  • ½ tsp coarse sea salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

For Baking Pan

  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil for greasing the pan and drizzling on top

Instructions

  • Combine your flour and yeast in a large bowl with a whisk or your hands. Make a deep well in the center of the bowl. Set aside
  • Add salt to warm water (38-40°C) until it dissolves then add it to our flour yeast mixture. Drizzle in the 2 tbsp of olive oil. Then, using your hands start to bring the mixture together. It will look and feel wet, that is exactly how it should be. You might need to add an extra tablespoon or 2 of room temperature water to get the desired consistency. Different climates and flour brands might respond differently. Remember we are looking for a well-hydrated dough here.

First Dough Rise:

  • Grease another medium-sized bowl with olive oil and gently push your dough mixture into it. Grab a quarter size section of the dough pull up and fold it onto itself. Continue in a circle until you made one full rotation. Then cover with a damp towel for 20 minutes. Remove the towel and repeat the circular folding this time going around 3 to 4 full rotations until the dough is smooth and resists when poked. (looks like a ball of mozzarella)*. Cover with a warm towel and let rest for one hour.
    *SEE NOTES FOR OVERNIGHT BULK FERMENTATION

Second Dough Rise

  • Remove the towel. And repeat the stretch and fold technique in a circular pattern for another 3 full rotations. If you cant see olive oil in your bowl drizzle another tablespoon or 2 on top of your dough. Cover again with the damp towel and let rest for another hour. The dough should have doubled in size by now. If not, let rest until doubled.

Third Rise in Baking Pan:

  • Prepare a 23 x 29 cm (9 x 13 inch ) baking pan with a generous amount of olive oil. Give the dough one more stretch and fold for 1 full rotation. Then gently drop the dough into the pan carefully, as we do not want to degas the dough. Generously cover your hands with olive oil and start gently working it into the corner of your pan. If your dough resists and keeps coming back to the center, ours did, cover again with a damp towel, and let rest for 10 min. Come back and try again repeating the 10 min resting if needed until you get it into the corners of your pan. Cover with a damp towel and let rise again for 1 hour.

Last Dough Rise:

  • Remove towel. Prepare a small bowl of water with a tablespoon of sea salt. Dip your fingers into the sea-salt water and start to poke your focaccia dough to help distribute the gas bubbles evenly. This is called dimpling and we need to dimple the whole dough. Cover one more time with a damp towel and preheat your oven to 230°C.
  • It takes about 20 to 30 min for the oven to get to the correct temperature. After 30 minutes remove the damp towel, the focaccia should have risen about ½ – ⅔ of the pan. Drizzle some ¼ cut cherry tomatoes with3 tablespoons of olive oil and ½ a teaspoon of coarse sea salt. Place the tomatoes one by one into the holes that we made earlier. Drizzle the focaccia with the residual olive oil from the bowl and add an extra drizzle all over. Top with flaky sea salt.
  • Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes. The bread is ready when it has formed a golden crust. To double-check, the internal temperature of the bread should hit at least 85° C. Immediately place pieces of fresh mozzarella on top of the focaccia so it can melt. Drizzle some extra olive oil on top, cut, and serve.

Notes

FOR OVERNIGHT BULK FERMENTATION: When you are done both rounds of stretch and folds cover your dough with tight cling film and place in your refrigerator to ferment overnight. If you chose this method skip the (Second Dough Rise) and go straight to the  (Third Rise in Baking Pan).
Course: Bread
Cuisine: Italian

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