Tomato Basil Parmesan Focaccia

This Italian-inspired Tomato Basil Parmesan Focaccia may just be one of the most delicious things you ever put in your mouth!

The first bite of this Tomato Basil Parmesan Focaccia had both Scott and I quite ridiculously smitten.

 

Tomato Basil Parmesan Focaccia - this Italian-inspired bread may just be one of the most delicious things you ever put in your mouth! thecafesucrefarine.com

I stumbled across the recipe on The Food Network several months ago. Just the fact that 209 cooks gave the Italian-inspired bread a 5-star rating aroused my curiosity. After reading many of the rave reviews, I couldn’t resist giving it a go. I followed the directions fairly closely the first time, although I did cut back on the oil and baked the bread in three 8″ round pans instead of the specified sheet pan. The aroma as the bread baked was heavenly, and when it emerged from the oven all golden and deeply dimpled, it was irresistible!

There was one step of the directions that was quite intriguing to me. Focaccia dough is typically “dimpled” just before the second rise. What this entails is pushing on the dough with your fingers creating little indentions which are then drizzled with olive oil and result in a craggy, fun surface on the finished bread. This recipe calls for actually tearing holes in the dough as you dimple it. As I began the process, I wondered if this would make any difference.

Tomato Basil Parmesan Focaccia - this Italian-inspired bread may just be one of the most delicious things you ever put in your mouth! thecafesucrefarine.com

Wow, it was surprising what a difference it made! In the past, my focaccia seemed to always lose much of the beautiful dimpled cragginess as it would rise and bake – but not this bread.

MY OTHER RECIPES


Tomato Basil Parmesan Focaccia - this Italian-inspired bread may just be one of the most delicious things you ever put in your mouth! thecafesucrefarine.com

It seems making the holes was the secret step I’ve been missing!

Tomato Basil Parmesan Focaccia - this Italian-inspired bread may just be one of the most delicious things you ever put in your mouth! thecafesucrefarine.com

After making the bread a few times, I decided to get a little creative. I added grated parmesan cheese to the dough, topped the focaccia with diced red and yellow tomatoes and added a sprinkle of finely chopped fresh basil before the final rise. Talk about a delicious explosion of summery flavor!

I’ve served this focaccia as a dinner bread and have also used it for sandwiches (my favorite is rosemary ham, thin slices of Fontina or Gouda cheese and a smear of coarse grain mustard). All our taste testers have loved it at the very first bite!

Tomato Basil Parmesan Focaccia - this Italian-inspired bread may just be one of the most delicious things you ever put in your mouth! thecafesucrefarine.com

If you’re hesitant about using yeast, I’ve given a few tips in the directions below. I like to buy the bulk yeast from big box stores like Sam’s or Costco. It’s a large quantity of yeast, but it’s dirt cheap and will keep indefinitely in the freezer. I keep a small jar in the fridge and freeze the rest. If you don’t have access to one of these stores or don’t want to purchase it in quantity, regular dry yeast from any grocery store will work just fine.

I really prefer to make the bread in three 8″ pans, which allows us to enjoy one and pop the others in the freezer. To serve after freezing, just thaw and warm in the oven for 10-15 minutes wrapped in foil. It comes out just great!

If you’re looking for a fabulous treat for family, friends or guests, set aside a little time to make this wonderful focaccia. You’ll need a total of around 3 hours, but the good news is that most of it is hands-off rising time. The mixer will do all the kneading and the only hands-on time involved is measuring the ingredients and dimpling (tearing!) the dough. If you don’t have a stand mixture or prefer to knead by hand, you’ll need to allow a bit more time.

Tomato Basil Parmesan Focaccia - this Italian-inspired bread may just be one of the most delicious things you ever put in your mouth! thecafesucrefarine.com

 

So take a delicious trip to Italy without ever leaving your own kitchen! Don’t be surprised if the neighbors line up at your little trattoria, as the amazing aroma wafts through neighborhood. Buon appetito!

And speaking of delicious trips, we’ve been having a wonderful time in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area. We attended a two-day food photography workshop with Lindsay from Pinch of Yum. Our heads are spinning a bit as we’re processing all the cool new things we’ve learned, but the seminar was an incredibly awesome experience and we’re excited to put our new knowledge into practice.

We had no idea before this trip, that Minneapolis has become quite the foodie scene and had the best time exploring some of the fabulous restaurant in the area, everything from tiny ethnic hangouts to upscale, classy downtown establishments.

The added bonus for us, in attending a workshop in Minneapolis, is that we have family in both Minnesota and Wisconsin, so we’ve had the pleasure of spending time with them as well. We’ll be back to share a little more about the workshop and some pics from our travels. The Midwest is incredibly beautiful, especially this time of the year!

Café Tips for making this Tomato Basil Parmesan Focaccia…

  • Recipes involving yeast usually call for “warm” water. This can be a bit misleading as the ideal temperature for yeast to proof is 105-110˚F. If you feel water that’s 105˚F, it’s to me, a little warmer than “warm”. I call it hot tap water. It should feel hot but not so hot that you pull your hand back upon touching it. If you’re not used to working with yeast, I highly recommend using an instant read thermometer. They’re inexpensive and can ensure good results.
  • In the summer months it’s not too hard to find a warm spot for the dough to rise. If your kitchen is chilly however, a little trick I like to use, is to put the dough in the microwave and cover with a clean towel. Let the towel stick out of the microwave just a bit and close the door so that the light stays on. The heat from the light is perfect to create a warm environment for rising.

Here are a few items I used to make and serve this Tomato Basil Parmesan Focaccia. All items are clickable.

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Tomato, Basil, Parmesan Focaccia

5 from 2 reviews

Tomato Basil Parmesan Focaccia – this Italian-inspired bread may just be one of the most delicious things you ever put in your mouth!

  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 45
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 24 servings
  • Category: Bread
  • Cuisine: Italian

Ingredients

  • 1 ¾ cups warm water*
  • 21/2 teaspoons active dry yeast OR 1 package .25 oz.active dry yeast packet
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for kneading
  • ½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
  • 1 ½ cups diced tomatoes (I like to use yellow and red)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus a bit extra for drizzling

Instructions

  1. Fill a medium size bowl with hot water. Allow to sit for 5 minutes then discard water (this helps make a nice warm environment for your yeast to proof) and add the 1 3/4 cup warm water*, yeast and sugar. Stir to combine.
  2. Put the bowl in a warm place until the yeast is bubbling and aromatic, 5-10 minutes.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, 1/4 cup olive oil and the yeast mixture on low speed. Once the dough has come together, continue to knead for 8 minutes on medium speed until it becomes smooth and soft.
  4. Loosen the dough hook and remove bowl from mixer. Remove dough hook, scraping into bowl any dough that has clung to it. Move dough to one side of the bowl with your hand or a spatula. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil (about a teaspoon) into the bottom of the mixing bowl and turn dough a couple of times to coat with oil. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and place bowl in a warm place** till doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  5. While dough is rising, place diced tomatoes in a colander set over a bowl. Sprinkle lightly with salt (about 1/4 teaspoon) and let the tomatoes drain until ready to use. (This will keep the finished bread from being too wet.)
  6. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to each of the three 8-inch round (or square) baking pans and rub the oil around with your fingers to completely coat the bottom and sides of pan. (Don’t try to use less oil. This may seem like a lot, but I’ve cut it back considerably from the original recipe. Focaccia is an oil crusted bread. That’s why it is so delicious!)
  7. Divide the dough as evenly as possible between the 3 pans. With oiled fingers, begin pressing the dough out to fit the pans. Turn the dough over to coat the other side with the olive oil. Continue to stretch the dough to cover the bottom of the pans. As you are doing so, spread your fingers out and make finger holes all the way through the dough. Not just dimples, but actually tear holes in the dough with your fingers as you press down. This might sound strange, but when the dough rises again it will create the characteristic craggy looking focaccia (see picture in post). If you don’t make actual holes in the dough, the finished product will be smooth.
  8. Pat the tomatoes with a paper towel to dry any surface moisture, then divide them evenly over the three pans. Sprinkle each pan with the finely chopped basil. Dimple dough again, pushing some of the tomatoes and basil down into the dough. Drizzle a bit more olive oil over tomatoes and cover pans with saran wrap and a clean kitchen towel.
  9. Place the pans of dough in a warm place until dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour. About 15 minutes before dough in finished rising, preheat the oven to 400˚F. Sprinkle the top of the focaccia lightly with flaky sea salt or kosher salt. Bake until the top of the loaf is golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  10. Remove the focaccia from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes, then remove from pans and finish cooling on a wire rack. Cool completely before cutting. Cut into wedges for serving. Serve warm or at room temperature. Garnish with small fresh basil leaves, if desired.

Notes

Recipe Adapted from The Food Network

 



45 thoughts on “Tomato Basil Parmesan Focaccia”

  • I can’t wait to try this bread! I’m a novice cook, so this might seem like a silly question, How are all 3 of the pans positioned in the oven? 2 on the middle shelf, & the 3rd where? Thank you!

    • Hi Janet,

      That’s a good question. Since these are baked in 8-inch pans, they’ll all fit on the same rack. You may want to rotate the pans around a bit, halfway through the baking time, so they all bake evenly.

  • This looks like a lovely recipe. I think I’ll try it tomorrow. I have one question: when do you freeze the ones you’re not eating right away? After you’ve baked it? Before the final rise?

  • First of all I follow you weekly and appreciate your recipes, photos and posts. I made the focaccia bread the other day and we enjoyed. I did notice that in comments that the Parmesan had been omitted and you had corrected. I still don’t know where to add the cheese. I’m sure it just me.!! Thank you again for all your exceptional recipes, time and attention

    • Hi Abby!

      Thanks so much for your sweet comment and alerting me to the “missing parmesan”. I know I corrected it but perhaps I forgot to his the “update” button ?? Anyways, it is corrected now. So sorry about that!

  • This is gorgeous! We used to have a place down the street that would make delicious focaccia but sadly they closed. Looks like I’ll need to try this recipe to keep my craving calmed down. Btw, I love all the fresh veggies in this!

  • That tearing holes thing is a really interesting idea! I’ll have to try that. And we always buy yeast in bulk and freeze it too — so much cheaper that way, isn’t it? Plus it’s easier to buy brands (like SAF) that the supermarket usually doesn’t stock. Anyway, love focaccia and this is such a nifty recipe — thanks.

  • I’d risk warming up my kitchen with the oven on to make this terrific focaccia! Nothing better than homemade bread and one featuring tomatoes and basil is perfect for summer!

  • This looks scrumptious ! I made Focaccia Bread for the first time yesterday and it was a disaster. Loki had read several recipes and it seemed every single one was different. So I tackled the one that seemed the easiest, not! It ended up in the garbage can. Second try, the same thing???? So I tried a third one making four
    small round loaves. They baked faster than I thought they should and didn’t have the height I was looking for. The taste was good, but not good enough. Your’s looks and sound so, so good! I’,
    M going to try it today ( even though I have some of the other left). Oh yeah, with two batches of dough in a bag in my garbage can’s, I had visions of the blob growing and sneaking out of the to come get me! Lol I mean the original version of “The Blob”, all creepy and slimy looking! Lol Wish me luck:) One more quick question I’d love to share this on my blog ( with a link back here of course.). Thanks!!

    • Candi, you crack me up! So funny! I can just about picture the movie, although it was about 50 years ago! Yikes! If you use one of our pics, just make sure to link back to our recipe. Have fun!

  • Oh my gosh, Chris……I could scarf down this whole loaf! It’s beautiful! And it looks so light and fluffy. Thanks for pointing out that tip about breaking holes into the dough. It really made for a beautiful surface! (My past focaccias have a duel purpose…they could also be used as door stops!). I’m looking forward to trying this technique! 🙂

  • Dear Chris, your Focaccia looks amazing – so summery, so delicious – a crowd pleaser, no doubt! I also have not made a Focaccia for a while and looking at this beauty, I really think I should be making this asap.
    Thanks for all the inspiration, dear friend! And the great tip about the “tearing v. dimpling”!°

    From the pictures you posted, it looks like your really enjoyed your workshop – looking forward to your upcoming posts about all those wonderful things you learned there! 🙂
    Andrea

  • I’ve read this over a few times and I must be missing something – when do I incorporate or sprinkle on the parm??

  • Your bread is beautiful Chris, will try your “tip” for the dimpling, especially if the end result looks like yours. There is nothing like summer tomatoes!!

  • I can’t wait to try your secret for making this a great focaccia – who knew? I agree that seeing those wonderful dimples disappear can be disappointing. Bravo on the flavors! The tomatoes are brilliant and so pretty. Can’t wait to make this one … it looks amazing!

  • I LOVE Anne’s original recipe and have made it several times to rave reviews. But, I have to admit, I’ve always wondered if all that olive oil was really necessary- it does seem a “bit” excessive, but I’ve been too chicken to mess with a good thing.. So, I’m eager to try your adaptation.! Thanks for doing the experimenting for us. 🙂

  • This looks and sounds insanely good! I have an easy recipe for focaccia but I haven’t made it in ages, I must try your version in a pan because mine is too thin for sandwiches. I bet this bread with rosemary ham was divine!

  • How fun that you two share the love of the blog:)

    I cannot imagine anything here looking any better than it does already..but I will keep watching..as always..looks delish you two!

    • We really do Monique. It’s just a joy working on something creative together. Yes, we picked up some wonderful photo, styling and editing techniques – and we can’t wait to get home to use them!

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