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Ingredients

  • 500 g bread flour (not all-purpose flour)
  • 2 tsp coarse salt
  • 300 ml water
  • 2 1/4 tsp dried yeast
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 8 oz tub of baby fresh mozzarella, drained and pat dry to remove excess moisture
  • large handful of fresh basil leaves

Instructions

  1. Lightly oil a 9×13-inch baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, add the flour, salt and mix well to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl or glass measuring jug, add the water, yeast and olive oil. Mix with a fork to incorporate.
  4. Add the water mixture to the flour bowl. Get in there with your hands and squish everything together. The dough should come together in rough ball with little to no flour visible. You can’t mess this up- just keep going until you’ve got a good mix. (Alternatively, mix the dough using an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Run the machine for 8-10 minutes on low speed).
  5. Cover the dough with a damp kitchen cloth and leave out at room temperature to rise. Your specific rise time will vary depending on how warm your surrounding temperature is. Expect to wait anywhere between 1-3 hours. Your dough is ready when it looks 1 1/2- 2x it’s original size. Take a picture with your phone to compare. (Alternatively, if you have to run out or can’t bake for whatever reason, stop here. Cover the bowl of dough with plastic wrap and place into the fridge to rise overnight 8-12+ hours. Bake in the morning).
  6. When your dough has risen sufficiently and you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 400 F (if using a glass baking dish, preheat to 375 F).
  7. Place the dough into your oiled baking dish. Gently stretch the dough, extending to fit the corners and sides. If there is resistance or your dough shrinks back when stretched, the gluten is not relaxed; let it rest for 10-15 minutes and try again.
  8. Poke several holes into the dough. Place a cherry tomato into each hole (approximately) pressing down as you go. If the tomatoes fit snuggly they won’t pop out when baked. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, and drizzle the top with olive oil for a nice, golden crust. Let the dough rise again but only for about 30 minutes or so, this time. It should look slightly puffed and less dense before it goes into the oven.
  9. Bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes. At the halfway mark, add the fresh mozzarella.
  10. Your focaccia is ready when beautifully puffed and golden. Remove from the oven and let it cool for at least 30 minutes- 1 hour for best texture. Don’t rush this step- you want the inside to remain light and fluffy.
  11. When ready to serve, tear some fresh basil leaves over the top, cut into squares and enjoy!