Focaccia With Tomato and Mozzarella
This bread is ideal for a light Italian meal or served with a salad for lunch. The crust is a bit crispy and the center is soft and slightly chewy. Best of all, leftovers are perfect for sandwiches.
5 cups all-purpose flour / 635g
4 teaspoons yeast / 17g
2/3 cup grated parmesan / 35g
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
2 cups warm water
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
For the topping:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 clove garlic, grated (optional)
12 cherry tomatoes
25 fresh mozzarella pearls
Yield: 2 Loaves
Coat two 1/4 sheet, rolled rim baking pans (9”x13”) with oil. Set aside.
Add flour, yeast, parmesan, salt and thyme to a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add water and olive oil gradually while stirring. Continue stirring until all ingredients are wet. If preparing by hand, move dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes. If using a stand mixer, add hook attachment and beat on medium speed for 5-7 minutes.
Cut kneaded dough in half. Roll it out in a rectangle, slightly larger than your baking sheet, on a lightly floured surface. Place the dough rectangles in the greased pans and shape to fit. Give each dough a light dusting of flour and cover with plastic wrap that has been lightly greased with olive oil or cooking spray. Set the doughs aside in a warm place and cover them with a kitchen towel. Let them rise until doubled in size (about 1 to 1-1/2 hours depending on conditions).
Preheat oven to 450˚F. Prepare the topping by cutting the mozzarella pearls in half, 25 halves for each loaf. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Remove the seeds and cut them in half lengthwise again, creating 48 quarters, 24 for each loaf. Place them cut-side-down on a wire rack to remove excess liquid. Stir together olive oil, salt and grated garlic. Set aside.
When the dough is ready, carefully remove the plastic wrap and, using your fingertips, poke 5 rows of 5 holes into the dough. Place a piece of mozzarella in each hole. Brush the top of the loaf with the oil mixture. Poke 4 tomato halves into the dough in rows between the rows of mozzarella. Bake the dough for 20-25 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool on a wire rack before serving.