Oiling tomatoes and adding a few sprigs of fresh rosemary brightens up this focaccia, and turns it into a bit of a show-stopper. Our Stylist, Louisa, made sure the cheese on top was just bubbling, and the crust kept its golden colour.
COOK AND PREP TIME: 2 HRS 25 MINS
MAKES: 1 LOAF
For the Dough
500g strong white flour, plus a little extra to dust the surfaces
1 x 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp caster sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
300ml warm water
For the topping
3 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt, to taste
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
10 small sprigs of fresh rosemary
15 cherry tomatoes
Handful of grated Cheddar cheese
- To get started with the dough, make sure you’ve got plenty of space to work in and warmish hands. Start by adding the flour, yeast, salt and sugar together in a big mixing bowl. Stir the olive oil in with the warm water and pour both into the dry mixture. Mix everything, preferably with a wooden spoon, and bring the whole lot together into a ball shape, using your hands.
- Once you have your ball shape roughly structured, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead for 5 minutes. The dough should be smooth, a little stretchy and soft at this point. Pop it into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with some oiled cling film, not too tight, just loose enough to create a pocket of air. Leave the dough to rise for an hour, in a warm place and watch it double in size.
- Whilst it’s proving, oil a large baking tray so the bread won’t stick and preheat the oven to 220°C.
- Now twice as big, turn the dough out onto a floured surface once again and this time knock it back with your knuckles; this means give it a good pummel. Press the dough into a rectangle, about the same size as the baking tray, then carefully slide it onto the tray. Stretch it out towards the edges, as clumsily as you like — part of the charm of this focaccia is its rustic finish.
- Cover loosely with oiled cling film and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes to prove and grow a little more.
- By now, the focaccia dough should have puffed up. Use your index finger to squidge 15 dimples into the spongy dough, pushing all the way to the bottom of the tray. For the perfect topping, drizzle your extra 3 tablespoons of olive oil from left to right, up and down and then fill the dimple holes with your cherry tomatoes. Season with a little sea salt and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper and poke the rosemary sprigs into the dough.
- Bake the focaccia in the centre of the oven for about 15–20 minutes or until the bread is fairly well risen and slightly golden around the edges. Just before it turns golden-brown on top, sprinkle the cheese evenly on top and return to the oven until it’s melted and browning. Allow the cheese to cool a little before serving and get stuck in.