Cherry Tomato Mozzarella Basil Focaccia

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Today is the first of June and finally it is beginning to feel like Summer. And, of course my mind immediately turns to all the lovely fresh produce that this season yields. Since we are currently celebrating British Tomato Fortnight I am creating recipes that celebrate the diversity of this tasty little fruit. So with caprese salad as my inspiration let me introduce you to my Cherry Tomato Mozzarella Basil Focaccia.

Pinterest sized image of Cherry Tomato Mozzarella Basil Focaccia Bread with descriptive graphics.

Focaccia is a bread with Italian origins. At its simplest it is a flat, white, airy bread, drizzled with olive oil and having a dimpled appearance. Serve it with salad, soup, pasta or as part of antipasti, the key is in the lightness of its crumb. In comparison, this cherry tomato and mozzarella topped bread with layers of basil hidden within the bread, is almost a meal in itself.

Two images of Cherry Tomato Mozzarella Basil Focaccia showing the light, airy crumb of the bread and the gooey, stringy cheese.
Cherry Tomato Mozzarella Basil Focaccia a feast that really is fun to make and eat!

As the bread bakes the fresh basil and garlic permeate throughout creating an incredible savoury flavour. Also, the fresh, vine ripened tomato flavour intensifies in the heat of the oven. Resulting in a joyfully flavoursome bread that is perfect for sharing, Italian style, around a table full of friends, family and food.

Baked Cherry Tomato Mozzarella Basil Focaccia fresh out of the oven
Cherry Tomato Mozzarella Basil Focaccia

If you haven’t made bread before, please do not worry. Because, as I am writing a recipe I always imagine the person reading it is standing next to me. Since I am a natural chatter-box, I describe each part of the process in easy to understand language and include photos for every step of the recipe. So you can be confident as you start your baking process.

Recipe: Cherry Tomato Mozzarella Basil Focaccia

For The Focaccia Dough

250ml Tap Water – at room temperature

7g Dried Yeast – I use Allinson 

1tbsp Runny Honey

350g/12oz Strong White Bread Flour – I use Wright’s 

5g Salt – I use Maldon sea salt

2 Garlic Cloves – finely minced or crushed

2tbsp Olive Oil

Filling And Topping The Focaccia 

2 Generous Handfuls Of Fresh Basil Leaves (approximately 25-30) – one handful for folding into the dough and the second for topping the focaccia

12 Mini Plum Tomatoes – cut in half. Alternatively use 24 small round cherry tomatoes

150g/5oz Approximately 20 Mini Mozzarella Balls – drained

1-2 Garlic Cloves

2tbsp Olive Oil

Pinch of sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Method:

Making The Focaccia Dough

I use a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment for the first part of mixing and proving the dough. Alternatively you can make the dough by hand. Large bowl in the instructions refers to the stand mixer bowl or the bowl used for hand mixing. Also, it is important to weigh all of the ingredients accurately to ensure a successful bake.

  • First of all add the tepid water to a large bowl and add the olive oil and then the honey. Adding the olive oil first ensures that the honey releases easily from the oiled tablespoon.
  • Next add the yeast.
  • Add the flour so that it covers all of the liquid ingredients.
  • Finally add the salt and minced garlic.
  • Fit the bowl to the stand mixer and lower the dough hook.
  • Mix on a low speed until all the ingredients are combined. Increase to a medium speed for approximately 10 minutes until the dough passes the windowpane test. To carry out the test stop mixing/kneading. Remove a small piece of dough and stretch it between your fingers. To pass the test the dough should stretch without tearing until light is visible through the dough. If the dough tears continue mixing/kneading for a further 2 minutes and test again.
  • As soon as the dough passes the windowpane test stop mixing/kneading and scrape any dough from the dough hook into the bowl.
  • Form the dough into a ball, place back into the bowl and cover with a clean tea towel.
  • Place the bowl in a draught free place and leave until the dough is doubled in size.

Knocking Back The Dough And Adding The Fresh Basil Leaves

  • As soon as the dough is doubled in size, turn it out of the bowl onto a lightly floured worktop. Most importantly, ensure the top of the risen dough is in contact with the worktop and the sticky underneath is now on top.
  • Pull out part of the dough with your hand and then tuck it into the centre of the dough.
  • Turn the dough clockwise, approximately 10 minutes if it were a clock and repeat the pulling and tucking technique. Repeat this process until the dough is smooth and not sticky to touch. See bottom right photo.
Four images showing each stage of shaping bread.
Building structure within the focaccia dough.
  • Turn the dough over and press out using your fingertips until it is a roughly square shaped approximately 10”/25cm.
  • Lay one handful of fresh basil leaves on top of the dough.
  • Fold the top third of the dough down and then fold the bottom third of the dough up and over.
  • Turn the dough by a quarter and repeat the folding step.
Detailed images showing fresh basil being folded into bread dough
Folding fresh basil into the bread dough.

Pressing Out The Focaccia Dough And Adding The Toppings

  • Turn the dough over and place onto a lightly oiled baking tray.
  • Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the dough and use your fingers to press out the focaccia dough, taking care to keep the basil leaves within the dough.
  • Press the halved mini plum tomatoes into the dough.
  • Likewise add the mini mozzarella balls in the same manner.
  • Scatter over the minced garlic and last handful of basil leaves.
  • Finally drizzle lightly with olive oil and add a pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
  • Leave in a draught free place to rise and preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan, gas mark 6, 400F.
Four images showing the focaccia and adding the toppings
Shaping the focaccia bread and adding the toppings.

Baking The Cherry Tomato Mozzarella Focaccia

  • As soon as the focaccia has plumped up around the tomatoes and basil, while doubling in size, it is ready to be baked.
  • Place the focaccia into the centre of the oven and bake for 25-35 minutes.
  • The bread is baked when it is golden on top and underneath, use a palette knife to lift a corner.
  • And once baked remove from the oven.
Cherry Tomato Mozzarella Basil freshly baked.
  • Leave the focaccia to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.
  • Alternatively, bake earlier in the day and reheat in a moderate oven for 10 minutes prior to serving.

To serve this focaccia I ran a pizza wheel across it at various angles to create interesting shapes and portions.

A pizza wheel is used to divide the Italian bread into portions for serving.
Cherry Tomato Mozzarella Basil Focaccia divided into portions.

This bread can be made a day in advance, including the toppings. Cover with cling film and refrigerate. To bake, remove from the fridge, allow the dough to come up to room temperature and puff up and then bake as per the recipe.

Any leftover focaccia can be placed in an airtight container and refrigerated for one day. Also, freezing the focaccia is not recommended due to the fresh tomatoes.

If you have enjoyed this recipe for Cherry Tomato Mozzarella Basil Focaccia you may also like these:

Baked Cheese Olive Ciabatta Bread

Baked cheese olive ciabatta bread being pulled apart to show the gooey cheese.
Baked Cheese Olive Ciabatta Bread

Tomato Thyme Garlic Focaccia Bread

Tomato thyme garlic focaccia bread cut in half.
Tomato Thyme Garlic Focaccia Bread

Garlic Cheese Bombs

Garlic cheese bombs mini bread rolls filled with mozzarella image shows one being pulled apart showing the gooey cheese.
Garlic Cheese Bombs

Because, when I bake, I use the very best ingredients I can afford, this always has an impact on the final flavour. And including locally grown, British produce give me a sense of pride at how incredible our farmers are here in the U.K. Supporting British farmers and also British businesses, such as Room Forty who provide an Afternoon Tea service, is something that I am passionate about. Our country has a wealth of talented people who produce an amazing array of produce and products. While they may be a little more expensive than mass produced imports, what they have in abundance is love and care. Resulting in far higher quality produce grown and made by people who are passionate about what they do.

Do you consider where your food comes from when grocery shopping?

Whatever you are making, baking and creating in your kitchens, have fun preparing and sharing your feast.

Sammie xx

The British Tomato Association gifted me the tomatoes produced by Eric Wall to sample and taste during British Tomato Fortnight #BTF19. I have not been paid or received any financial gain for writing this blog post. All opinions, views and content are my own. No part of this post may be reproduced or duplicated without the written permission of the owner. Please see my Disclosure Policy.

 

 

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Bath Soft Cheese Chilli Tarts

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Today I have a fantastic, delicious recipe, that is easy to prepare and stunning to serve. While this recipe is ideal for a picnic or buffet it is also fancy enough for serving at a dinner party. So let me share my Bath Soft Cheese Chilli Tarts with you.

Bath Soft Cheese Chilli Tarts

 

A crisp, crunchy, golden filo pastry encases a layer of chilli pickle, topped with a generous layer of Bath Soft Cheese. I know, they look so tempting. While the late afternoon sunshine illuminates these Bath Soft Cheese Chilli Tarts, with their melting cheese and chilli centre.

Bath Soft Cheese is organic and suitable for vegetarians. It is made by the Bath Soft Cheese Company in Kelston near Bath. It tastes like an English version of Brie. Soft and buttery,  it matures to a ripe, full bodied cheese, that stands up well to the chilli in this recipe.

FF Bath Soft Cheese Chilli Tarts
Bath Soft Cheese Chilli Tarts incredibly simple to make and bake.

Finally, as you cut through the light, crisp filo pastry layers the melted cheese oozes out of the tart, accompanied by the spicy chilli pickle underneath. And to accompany this tart a few salad leaves and a glass of something crisp and cool.

FF Bath Soft Cheese Chilli Tarts
Bath Soft Cheese Chilli Tarts – tell me you can resist that delicious, melted cheese?

While cheese, chutney and crackers are a classic combination, it is fun and delicious using the ingredients in a different way.

Baking the chilli pickle and Bath Soft Cheese really wakes up the flavours. And when placed in a buttery, filo pastry tart, the result is a remarkably delicious dish.

Recipe: Makes 6 Bath Soft Cheese Chilli Tarts

250g Bath Soft Cheese – available from Pong Cheese

1 Packet of Filo Pastry – you will need 4-5 sheets – I used Jus Rol

100g Unsalted Butter melted and cooled

1/2 Jar Chillililli – from Hawkshead Relish

2-3tbsp Freshly Chopped Chives

1/2tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Method: Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan, gas mark 4, 350F

Creating the filo pastry tart shell:

  • First of all, place 6 loose bottom tart tins on a baking tray. I used 9cm width, between 8-10cm (3.5-4″) will be fine.
  • Brush each tart tin lightly with melted butter using a pastry brush.
  • Have a clean damp tea towel to hand as filo pastry can dry out very quickly, so it’s best to cover the spare pastry sheets.
  • Place one filo pastry sheet on to a board or pastry mat. Brush lightly with melted butter.
  • Using a sharp knife cut the filo pastry sheet into equal quarters and then cut each quarter in half, from top to bottom. You will have 8 squares/rectangles.
  • Start by laying 1 square of filo pastry in the tart tin, gently pressing it so that it sticks to the base and the sides.
  • Add another square of filo pastry, laying it slight offset from the first piece. The idea is to build up layers that form a solid tart shell with lots of edges/corners on the side, which will become golden and crisp on baking.
FF Bath Soft Cheese Chilli Tarts
See how the 5 layers of filo pastry build up to create a solid tart shell.
  • Continue building the tart case until you have used 5 separate layers of filo pastry – bottom right in the picture above.
  • I actually built 2 tart cases at a time, I wouldn’t recommend building more as each layer will dry out as you prepare the next sheet and is then likely to crack and fall apart once baked.

Layering the tart filling:

  • When all 6 tart cases have been built, spoon 2 generous teaspoons of the Chilli Pickle into the base of each one.
  • Cut the block of Bath Soft Cheese into 6 equal-ish portions – they will weigh approximately 40 grammes.
  • Place a square of cheese on top of Chilli Pickle in each tart case.
FF Soft Bath Cheese Chilli Tarts
Bath Soft Cheese Chilli Tarts are so easy to make
  • Sprinkle the top of each tart with a little freshly ground black pepper and some freshly snipped chives – reserve half of the chives for garnish once baked.
FF Bath Soft Cheese Chilli Tarts
Bath Soft Cheese Chilli Tarts ready for the oven.

Baking the cheese tarts:

  • Place the Bath Soft Cheese Chilli Tarts in the top a preheated oven and bake for 15-18 minutes. The tarts are cooked when the filo pastry is crisp and golden and the cheese has melted to fill each tart.
  • Once baked remove the baking tray from the oven and allow the tarts to cool for 10-15 minutes in their tins.
FF Bath Soft Cheese Chilli Tarts
Bath Soft Cheese Chilli Tarts freshly baked.
  • The Bath Soft Cheese Chilli Tarts can then be carefully removed from their tins and are best served warm. Don’t worry if a couple of crispy pieces of filo pastry break off as you handle them. These delightful tarts are built of 5 layers of filo pastry and are actually quite strong.

Serving suggestion:

I like to serve each tart, warm, on a bed of deeply coloured, fresh lettuce leaves with an extra sprinkle of fresh chives.

FF Bath Soft Cheese Chilli Tarts
Bath Soft Cheese Chilli Tarts a delicious light lunch.

Such a simple and yet flavourful appetiser or light lunch. Also these tarts tarts can be eaten cold. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days and vamp up your packed lunch.

I really would recommend the Chillililli from Hawkshead Relish. Not only does it have great flavour in this tart, it also adds a surprise texture, hidden beneath the melted cheese.

If you have enjoyed this recipe for Bath Soft Cheese Chilli Tarts then you may also like these:

Mini Sparkenhoe Red Leicester Tarts

FF Bath Soft Cheese Chilli Tarts
Mini Sparkenhoe Red Leicester Tarts.

Beauvale Cheese Walnut Scones

FF Bath Soft Cheese Chilli Tarts
Beauvale Cheese Walnut Scones.

Goddess Cheese Pine Nut Muffins

Bath Soft Cheese Chilli Tarts
Goddess Cheese Pine Nut Muffins

As you can see, I am loving creating recipes with cheese. You may also like my Cheddar Tomato Basil Quiche, which is exceptionally delicious if you substitute the Cheddar for Sparkenhoe Red Leicester cheese.

Coming up with new ideas, flavour pairings and recipes, really gives me a thrill. Also with all that my body goes through see here, it is wonderful that I can still express my creativity, through cooking and baking and in turn, share my recipes with you.

Whatever you are making, baking and creating in your kitchens, have fun. Enjoy your feast and remember, when you are able, to invite others round to share with you. It really is true that food tastes better when it is shared!

Sammie xx

Pong Cheese provided me with the cheese to create this recipe. All opinions, views, content and photographs are my own. I was not paid to write this post, please see my Disclosure Policy.

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