Tomato and basil pesto focaccia
- September 2015
- Serves 10
- Hands-on time 30 min, oven time 35 min, plus proving and resting
Light and fluffy focaccia, enriched with lots of good quality olive oil, is one of Italy’s greatest recipes. This one contains juicy bursts of vine cherry tomatoes and a homemade basil pesto.
- Vegetarian recipes
- 9.3g (1.4g saturated)
- 42.6g (4.1g sugars)
- 300g strong white flour
- 200g type 00 flour
- 7g fast action dried yeast
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- ½ tbsp fine salt
- 300ml warm water
- 100ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for oiling and drizzling
- 250-300g cherry tomatoes (depending on size), on the vine
- Sea salt flakes for sprinkling (we like Maldon)
For the basil pesto
- Large bunch fresh basil
- Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
- Juice 1⁄2-1 lemon
- Put the strong white flour, type 00 flour, yeast, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the water and combine with your hands until the mixture just comes together. Pour in the olive oil, then mix well with your hands to form a loose dough that feels wet and very soft.
- Turn out onto a clean work surface and knead, using a pastry scraper if you have one and using the ‘slap and fold’ method (see tips), for about 8 minutes. Alternatively, knead for 5 minutes on a medium speed in a stand mixer with a dough attachment fitted.
- Lightly oil a large clean bowl, add the dough, then cover with lightly oiled cling film. Leave in a warm place for 1-2 hours until the dough has doubled in size (see tips).
- Remove the cling film and tip out the risen dough onto a work surface. Knock it back (knead it gently for 5 seconds) – you want to redistribute the air evenly in the dough, not push it out completely. Lift the dough carefully into a 20cm x 30cm high-sided rectangular baking tin. Don’t stretch and pull it. Instead, push it to the sides of the tin gently, using your fingertips. It may not reach the edges of the tin but don’t worry – it will puff up and fill out as it proves.
- Cover with a clean tea towel and leave somewhere warm for at least an hour to prove, until it has nearly doubled in size. Check the dough is ready by pressing your finger in softly. If the indent stays, you’re ready to heat the oven and bake.
- Heat the oven to 220°C/ 200°C fan/gas 7. Snip the cherry tomato vines into small lengths and arrange over the focaccia, pressing them down lightly. Drizzle over a generous amount of olive oil, scatter with sea salt, then bake for 10-15 minutes until nicely golden. Turn down the heat to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6 and bake for another 20 minutes.
- While the focaccia is baking, make the basil pesto. Either put the basil leaves in a large pestle and mortar, or in a food processor, and pound or whizz until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl, stir in enough oil to make a drizzling consistency, then add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- Once the focaccia is cooked, remove from the oven and leave in the tin for 5 minutes. Take out of the tin carefully and put on a cooling rack for 30-40 minutes. Drizzle with basil pesto, then cut or tear into slices to serve – the focaccia is wonderful just warm or at room temperature.
Allow plenty of time (1-2 hours) for the dough to rise and prove – for the loaf to be light, it really does need to double in size. Put it next to a warm oven to get things going, if you need to.
This is best eaten fresh, but it will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 24 hours.
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