Cherry Tomato Mozzarella Basil Focaccia

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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Cheddar Cheese Thyme Soft Breadsticks

Cheese, loved by so many, is also such a versatile ingredient. Something magical happens to the flavour when it is heated. Becoming more savoury, salty and intense on the palette. Even when eaten with crackers it benefits vastly when left out of the fridge to come up to room temperature. Since winning some Vintage Cheddar in a Twitter competition I wanted to create a new, delicious snack recipe. These Cheddar Cheese Thyme Soft Breadsticks tick every, single, box.

FF Cheddar Cheese Thyme Soft Breadsticks

Cheesy Breadsticks – Delicious And Versatile

The combination of good quality mature, or vintage cheddar with fresh thyme gives a distinctly savoury flavour to these breadsticks. Also, the addition of Parmesan cheese to the bread dough enhances and reaffirms their cheesy flavour. While pastry cheese straws can be oily at times, that is not the case here. No greasy fingers whilst munching on these!

FF Cheddar Cheese Thyme Soft Breadsticks
Cheddar Cheese Thyme Soft Breadsticks

As well as tasting delicious on their own, these cheesy breadsticks also make a perfect accompaniment to soup, such as Hearty Minestrone Soup. While sounding an unlikely combination, we ate these with a simple beef casserole that had been bubbling away on the hob all day. Not so surprising when Cheddar is often used in the pastry of well made beef pies.

FF Cheddar Cheese Thyme Soft Breadsticks
Cheddar Cheese Thyme Soft Breadsticks

Recipe: Cheddar Cheese Thyme Soft Breadsticks makes 32

320ml Tap Water at room temperature

7g Dried Yeast

500g Strong White Bread Flour

2 tbsp Olive Oil plus extra for oiling the baking trays

7g Sea Salt plus extra for sprinkling – I use Maldon

50g Parmesan Cheese finely grated

3 tsp Fresh Thyme Leaves plus an add 2 tsp for sprinkling – halve the amount if using dried

1/2 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper plus extra for sprinkling on to breadsticks

50g plus an additional 75g Mature Cheddar Cheese – I used Vintage Cheddar from Wyke Farms

1 Free Range Egg beaten with 2 tsp cold water to use as an egg wash

Method:

The method given uses a stand mixer with dough hook attachment to make the dough. Of course this may be made by hand.

Making The Breadstick Dough

  • Weigh the water into the bowl of the stand mixer.
  • Add the dried yeast and flour.
  • Next add the olive oil and salt.
  • Lower the dough hook and mix on low speed for 10 minutes, increasing to medium speed for a further 3 minutes.
  • While the dough is mixing lightly oil 4 large baking trays. Also preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan, 400F, gas mark 6.
  • Stop mixing and check the dough. It should be able to stretch so that light can be seen through it. This is called the windowpane test. If the dough does not pass this test lower the dough hook and continue to mix on medium, stopping and checking every two minutes until it finally passes the test.
  • As soon as the dough is ready stop mixing. Add both the finely grated Parmesan cheese and 50g of the cheddar. Also add 2 teaspoons of fresh Thyme leaves and half a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper.
  • Lower the dough hook and mix on a low speed for two minutes.
  • Stop the mixer, scrape any dough from the dough hook into the bowl, cover with a cloth and leave in a draft free place until doubled in size.

Flavouring And Shaping The Cheedar Cheese Thyme Breadsticks

  • Lightly flour the worktop and tip out the dough, so that the top of the risen dough is on contact with the worktop.
FF Cheddar Cheese Thyme Soft Breadsticks
The Cheddar Cheese Thyme Soft Breadsticks Dough
  • Dust the dough with flour and roll out to 50cm x 30cm (20in x 12in).
FF Cheddar Cheese Thyme Soft Breadsticks
Preparing the dough to become breadsticks.
  • Sprinkle over the rolled out dough, 75g finely grated cheddar and 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves.
  • Fold the dough in half.
FF Cheddar Cheese Thyme Soft Breadsticks
Folding and cutting the dough into breadsticks.
  • Gently roll over the folded dough with a rolling pin, sealing the cheese inside.
  • Cut the dough in half across the middle. Next cut 1cm (1/2in) strips in the dough.
FF Cheddar Cheese Thyme Soft Breadsticks
Preparing the breadsticks for baking.
  • Removing one dough strip at a time, stretch and twist it before placing on a prepared baking tray. The dough can be pressed on to the tray and will stick, holding the twist in place. Place eight breadsticks on each tray.
  • Brush each breadstick lightly with egg wash and sprinkle over 1/2 teaspoon of thyme (for each eight breadsticks). Also grind black pepper and sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over the tray.
  • Place two baking sheets in the preheated oven on separate shelves and bake for 15-20 minutes.
FF Cheddar Cheese Thyme Soft Breadsticks
Freshly baked, golden, Cheddar Cheese Thyme Soft Breadsticks
  • The breadsticks are baked when they are a light golden brown.
  • As soon as the breadsticks are baked remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.
  • Continue with the other half of the dough, cutting, twisting, egg washing and sprinkling and finally baking as before.
FF Cheddar Cheese Thyme Soft Breadsticks
The soft inner crumb of these Cheddar Cheese Thyme Soft Breadsticks.
  • Wait until slightly cooled before biting into one of these deliciously cheesy breadsticks, with its soft, fluffy inner.
FF Cheddar Cheese Thyme Soft Breadsticks
Cheddar Cheese Thyme Soft Breadsticks

Serving And Storing The Breadsticks

Serve slightly warm to allow for the best possible taste experience. At there best enjoyed on the day these are made.

Since this recipe makes a big batch of Cheddar Cheese Thyme Soft Breadsticks, they can be enjoyed at larger gatherings and are ideal for adding to a buffet table.

To make ahead, bake as usual, cool and freeze for up to two weeks. Remove from the freezer when needed, place on a baking tray in a warm oven for 10 minutes to defrost and warm through.

If you have enjoyed this recipe for Cheddar Cheese Thyme Soft Breadsticks you may also like these:

Seeded Multigrain Baguettes

FF Cheddar Cheese Thyme Soft Breadsticks
Seeded Multigrain Baguettes

Baked Cheese Olive Ciabatta Bread

FF Cheddar Cheese Thyme Soft Breadsticks
Baked Cheese Olive Ciabatta Bread

Cheddar Sun Dried Tomato Scones

FF Cheddar Cheese Thyme Soft Breadsticks
Cheddar Sun Dried Tomato Scones

Creating recipes using ingredients that compliment and enhance each other is at the heart of Feasting is Fun. Likewise, encouraging people to share. Baking extra to give away, to an elderly neighbour or new family, is easy. Especially when you are in the kitchen already, whipping up a batch of breadsticks, cookies or cupcakes.

Who will you share with?

Whatever you are making, baking or creating in your kitchens, enable fun preparing your feast.

Sammie xx

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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Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread

Bread is something that I really enjoy making. Flour, yeast, salt and water, combined and worked, create a bread with real taste. Add in a few extra flavours and the possibilities are endless. Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread is an incredibly easy, yet packed with flavour bread. Perfect for making at home.

FF Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread
Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread.

This week in our house is all about birthdays. Our Lil Man will be 12 this week, it’s also my Sister’s birthday in the same week. Definitely time for Feasting, Celebrating and Fun! Covert baking operations during the day – ready for surprises on their special days. Ooh I love a celebration – well that is as long as I’m not the center of attention!

Fortunately, shyness is not something our son could ever be accused of having. His enthusiasm and passion for life is infectious and wonderful to see. He waits all year for his birthday and the night before, without fail, he reaches ‘ready to explode’ status!Christmas is the same for him, times a gazillion!I adore his passion & zest for life, even if at times it can be exhausting and overwhelming.

So, to make life a bit easier on myself today, I grabbed a previously, made and frozen Chicken and Four Cheese Lasagne  from the freezer last night and left it to defrost in the fridge overnight. Yes, I confess to feeling a tiny little bit smug.
Since I have a bread maker that makes my life (in the world of bread baking), so much easier, I decided to whip up a couple of these GARLIC ROSEMARY FOCACCIA BREAD.  Also, as this is such a reliable and easy recipe, I decided to share it with you.

Even with 4 Garlic bulbs added to the bread mixture & the same sprinkled on top, this Focaccia only has a mild Garlic taste.
Even with 4 Garlic bulbs added to the bread mixture & the same sprinkled on top, this Focaccia only has a mild Garlic taste.

GARLIC ROSEMARY FOCACCIA BREAD: makes 2 loaves.

You will need 2 x lightly oiled 8×8″ square tins ( with at least 2″ depth), or – 1 larger oiled baking tray (2″ deep) to bake one large focaccia.

Recipe: Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread 

1lb Strong Plain White Flour – I use Shipton Mill

300ml Warm (hand hot) Water

1 x 7g Sachet, Easy Blend Yeast

2 tbs Olive Oil (plus extra for drizzling over bread, oiling baking tins & cling film)

7g Sea Salt – I use Maldon

Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper for top of the bread

2 tbs Fresh Rosemary – finely chopped

8 Garlic Bulbs (4 for bread mixture, 4 for topping the bread).

Method: Preheat oven to 220C/200C fan, gas mark 7

When using a bread maker or stand mixer:

Place the warm water into the pan or bowl of the device you are using, making sure the dough hook is attached to the stand mixer.

Sprinkle over the sachet of dried, activated yeast and swish about with clean fingers to mix.

Next place the flour on top of the liquid mixture. Add the oil and salt.

Now add 1 tbs of the finely chopped Rosemary and salt.

Mince most of the Rosemary finely, allowing a few whole & half leaves to remain so they can be seen in the bread!
Mince most of the Rosemary finely, allowing a few whole & half leaves to remain so they can be seen in the bread!

Add in four minced bulbs of garlic. I’m a very big fan of my garlic press (no peeling or chopping), but you may chop, process, squish with the back of your knife. Please don’t write in with other methods for finely mincing garlic, just be happy that you’re innovative.

Now mix & prove (if using a bread maker). With a stand mixer, attach the dough hook & mix for 8-10 minutes, until the dough has a silky, stretchy, elasticity about it.

If kneading by hand, bring all the ingredients together and work (knead) the dough until you can feel the change, when the dough again stretches easily and feels silky to touch – a good way to check that the dough has been worked enough is that it should be hard to tear.

Shape the dough into a ball and place into an oiled bowl, then turn the ball over, so the top has an oily layer & cover tightly with cling film. Place in a warm draught free place until doubled in size (about an hour).

Prepare the baking tins (or large tin if only using one) by placing some oil in the tin (approx 1tsp for a smaller tin).  Then using your fingers or a piece of kitchen towel completely cover the inside of the tin with a light slick if oil. When doing this by hand, your nails also benefit from a cuticle treatment.
Talking of fingers, if you have long nails it’s probably easier to apply the oil with the kitchen cloth. It also probably means you look after your hands and nails may not need a quick, olive oil cuticle treatment. Just saying, I NEED the treatment.

If using a bread machine switch on to knead cycle to knock the dough back for a minute. With the dough in the bowl, remove the cling film & gently punch down (enjoy the soft enveloping feeling!)the dough to knock out the air bubbles and gently knead by hand for 2 minutes.

Half the focaccia dough.
Half the focaccia dough.

Divide the dough in two (or leave whole if making a larger Focaccia) using a sharp knife or a dough cutter.
Place half the dough into each tin (or all into one tin).

NOW is the absolutely BEST thing about making this type of bread. If you loved making mud pies when you where younger, or maybe still do, you’re going to LOVE this next bit.
Using your the heel of your hand, gradually press the dough out until it reaches the edges of the tin and is roughly the same thickness across the tin.

Check out my dimples!!!!
Check out my dimples!!!!

Next using your fingers, have great fun making lots & lots & lots of dimples in the dough – to give it the classic focaccia look.
Can you tell how much I really love that part? So much fun!
Drizzle a little olive oil, sprinkle some sea salt flakes, the rest of the finely minced Rosemary, a grinding of pepper and the rest of the garlic. Split over 2 tins if making 2 Focaccia loves.

Lightly oil some cling film:
TOP TIP: Using a clean wet cloth wipe some of your work surface so that it is damp. When laying your cling film over the top it will lay flat and not attempt to attach itself to itself, you, or random kitchen objects. You can then easily spread a light coating of oil over the cling using your hands, or a pastry brush.
I know there’s oil in the dough, the tin has been oiled, you’ve just drizzled oil on top of the focaccia – JUST TRUST ME!

Most of the time you could get away with not oiling the cling, but and it’s happened to me, it WON’T EVER STICK if you oil the cling!

The risen dough does lose some of the dimply effect - so if you want more dimples, repeat the process!!!!
The risen dough does lose some of the dimply effect – so if you want more dimples, repeat the process!!!!

Cover the top of the tin with the oiled cling (so it’s airtight) and leave in a warm, draught free place until doubled in size. Alternatively,  place the dough in the fridge. While it will take longer to rise, the bread will develop a lovely flavour, due to the slow prove. It’s your dough, so, do whatever you fancy.

ANOTHER IMPORTANT TIP – I have successfully risen the dough slowly in the fridge, completely forgotten about it, so it quadruples in size. Knock it back by recreating the dimpled effect, as before, left to rise and it’s turned out fine.
Bake the focaccia in a preheated oven for 15 – 20 minutes, until a golden colour and still quite soft. The base should sound hollow when rapped with a knuckle.

Once baked, remove from the oven, take a deep breath, the smell is intoxicating. Leave to cool for 10 minutes in the tin, run round the outside with a palette knife until you can feel the loaf easing from the tin. Turn the bread out and place on to a cooling rack. Repeat with second tin.

Please dunk me in some scrummy soup, pasta sauce or sausage casserole?
Please dunk me in some scrummy soup, pasta sauce or sausage casserole?

The Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread will be marshmallowy soft & is fine to serve warm as is. Or cool, wrap in foil and freeze for up to one month.
If you prefer a slight crust to your focaccia, 10 mins before serving, place the bread directly on to the rack of a preheated oven (as for baking the dough) for 5 – 10 minutes, depending on how crusty you like it.
Because this bread is thinner than a loaf, you can cut or tear the bread whilst still warm.

FF Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread
Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread baked as a whole.

This bread goes with any dish you would normally serve garlic bread with. It also goes fantastically well with soup. Spicy vegetable, leek and potato are especially good with this bread. It is ideal for dunking!
One Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread is plenty for our family of five, so I wrap in foil and freeze the other one.

If you have enjoyed this recipe for Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread you may also like these:

Tomato Thyme Garlic Focaccia

FF Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread
Tomato Thyme Garlic Focaccia Bread.

Easy Crusty Baguettes

FF Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread
Easy Crusty Baguettes.

Garlic Cheese Bombs

FF Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread
Garlic Cheese Bombs

I really hope you give this recipe a try. You can vary the herbs. I’ve used Thyme, Oregano and SHOCK/HORROR dried mixed herbs. Ooh I’m such a rebel! But seriously, it works better with the woodier herbs (rather than parsley/fennel) mentioned. Since I find that soft herbs are better mixed with butter and oil, then slathered into a baguette/ciabatta (part bake baguettes work well for this!).
Until next time, I hope you have fun giving this recipe a go and enjoy feasting with whoever you share it with.

See you soon. Sammie xx

No part of this blog post may be replicated without written permission of the owner. Please see my Disclosure Policy.

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