Make Italian focaccia caprese bread from scratch using my easy step by step tutorial! Have your salad & eat it too! 🙂
Welcome to the world of Mozzarella!
If you’re anything like me, my brother and half the world’s population, you dig mozzarella…. and with good reason too! The stringy, stretchy, gooey texture rendered by mozzarella (especially the fresh kind) is an experience not to be missed.
Yes, yes, I’ll get to the tomato and basil too now. You would have seen these 3 ingredients together in a Caprese salad…. or if you’re a Foodomania fan (in which case, xoxo!), my rebelling Caprese Pizza? 😀 Taking the concept of caprese further, we’re making a traditional Italian bread called focaccia and topping it off with this salad.I didn’t plan for that tomato slice to be hanging out obnoxiously. But it kinda works in the photo, don’t you think? 🙂
I made a few key mistakes while making the bread (like forming the dimples before the dough had a chance to rise again). But all in all, I think it turned out pretty great. The texture of the focaccia was spot on – spongy and soft. The slight tangy-ness of the tomatoes offset by the cheese and the wonderful aroma of basil leaves makes this a bread worthy of being on my top 10 Breads of 2014 list! 😉
For the Dough
- 2 teaspoons Instant Yeast / Active Dry Yeast (Note 1)
- 1 tablespoon Sugar
- 1 – 1 and 1/2 cups Warm Water (around 110–115 F / 45 C)
- 3 and 1/2 cups Bread Flour or All Purpose Flour
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 cup Oil (preferably Olive Oil)
- A little more olive oil for brushing dough
For the Topping
- 4 Tomatoes, sliced thin
- 1, 6” piece of fresh buffalo mozzarella, cut into 1/4” slices (See Note 2)
- 1/2 cup fresh Basil Leaves, cut into thin strips
- For the Herbed Oil: (Note 3)
- 1/4 cup Olive Oil, preferably (or any oil)
- 2 teaspoon dried Oregano
- 2 teaspoon dried Basil
- 2 teaspoon red Chilli Flakes
- 2 teaspoon finely minced garlic/ paste
- 1 teaspoon Salt (adjust to taste )
- Fresh basil leaves for garnishing
NOTE 1 – Yeast
- If you’re using active dry yeast, you will have to proof it first. Mix sugar in warm water and add the yeast. Let it rest for 3-4 minutes. It will start foaming up. Then you can use this liquid to make the dough
- If you’re using instant yeast, you don’t have to proof it. Yet, you can follow the same method as above. But it won’t foam up.
NOTE 2 – Mozzarella
- Use Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella cheese if you can find it, as it is the most authentic way of eating “Caprese”. However, if you don’t have it, you can use the dried mozzarella cheese as well. How thick / thin you want your cheese slices to be depends on you
NOTE 3 – Herbed Oil
- The amount of spices I’ve mentioned is suited to my taste. You can adjust the amounts to suit your taste. Leave out garlic if you don’t like it.
NOTE 4 – Options for Baking Pan
- Either use a round cake pan and form the focaccia to fit the mold
- Or use a rectangular baking pan. In this case, you have to form elongated (oval) shaped focaccia. It won’t be perfectly round.
Making the dough
- Read Note 1 above on how to proof yeast. To lukewarm water, add the sugar and yeast. Let it rest for 2-3 minutes.
- Mix flour, salt, oil together.
- Pour in the yeast mixture into the flour and start mixing.
- Once it comes together, knead by hand for 15-20 minutes or by electric mixer for 8-10 minutes till you have a smooth & elastic dough.
- Place the dough in a well oiled bowl. Brush the top of the dough will oil as wll to prevent it from drying out.
- Cover loosely with damp cloth. Let it rest in a warm spot for 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in volume. Punch down the dough.
- Mix all spices & garlic with the oil. Microwave / Heat it for 30 seconds. Let the flavors seep into the oil. Set aside.
Forming the Focaccia caprese
- Grease the baking pan with oil and sprinkle generously with semolina (rava) or cornmeal. This prevents the bread from sticking to the pan
- Divide the dough equally.
- **Option A: – If you’re making in 6 inch round pans, you will get about 4-6. Roll it out into roughly 6 inch circles. Place it onto the baking pan. With your hand, roughly even it out.
- **Option B: – You can make these in long baking pans as well. Roll each piece of dough (or press out) out into approximately 11” by 7” or If making smaller Focaccia, into approximately 5” by 7”. It alright if it’s an odd shape because Focaccia is really a “rustic” bread. (It might look like an oval shape)
- Place on the prepare baking pan. If the dough shrinks a little while transferring, roll it back out.
- Brush lightly with oil, cover & let it rise for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 200 C / 400 F.
- Lightly oil your index finger tips and press into the dough creating evenly spaced “dimples” on it. Generously brush the surface with some herbed oil.
- Bake at 200C (400F) for about 18 to 20 minutes till it is almost done and is beginning to turn golden brown.
- Take the Focaccia out and turn up the heat of your oven to 220C (440F).
- Lightly drizzle some of the Herbed Oil over the Focaccia and then evenly arrange some slices of mozzarella over the bread, leaving very little space between them. Arrange the tomato slices over this and a little sprinkle the chopped basil over this. The topping should cover most of the surface of the bread.
- Drizzle remaining Herbed Oil over the topping and return the bread to the oven. Bake the Focaccia for 5 to 8 minutes or until the cheese has just melted. Remove from the oven and garnish with fresh basil leaves.
- Cut the Focaccia into slices and serve while it is still hot.
Focaccia Caprese Recipe – step by step pictures
Disclaimer: The written recipe might slightly vary from the step by step pictures since I made a few mistakes. However, both the methods are correct and will give you a successful focaccia! 🙂
You’ll need –
In a mixing bowl, add the flour, salt, oil and mix well.
Add the yeast – water to the flour mixture. Mix well
Knead it for 15-20 minutes by hand or 8-10 minutes in electric mixer till you have a smooth & elastic dough
Place it in a well oiled bowl. Brush the dough with oil as well.
Cover and let it rise in a warm spot for 1 hour or till it has doubled in volume. (Mine actually tripled!)
Grease a baking pan well and sprinkle with semolina or cornmeal. I used a 6 inch round cake pan to make my focaccia caprese. You can use a 9X13 to make a different shaped focaccia if you want. Simple roll out the dough into 1/2 inch thick circle and place into the pan. Press it to make it even
With your finger, make holes all over the dough.
Brush the top of the dough with some herbed oil.
Cover and let it rise again for 20 minutes or so. The dough would have visibly plumped up.
Heat oil with all the spices and garlic mixed in
Pour the herbed oil all over the focaccia bread (pour into the holes of the bread as well!). Bake at 200 C for 20 minutes till it is almost done.
Remove the bread and lightly brush with the leftover oil again. Place tomato slices and evenly arrange some slices of mozzarella over the bread, leaving very little space between them. Sprinkle the chopped basil over this. The topping should cover most of the surface of the bread.
Return the bread to the oven. Crank up the heat to 220 C and bake for 5 minutes
Remove from the oven and garnish with fresh basil leaves. Slice and serve hot
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