This delightful cherry tomato focaccia recipe is perfect for a flavourful and soft Italian bread experience. Topped with cherry tomatoes and seasoned to perfection, it is an ideal treat for any occasion
About this Recipe
By: Silvana Lanzetta
Have you ever sunken your teeth into the mouth-watering cherry tomato focaccia from the Apulia region? This scrumptious, soft, and flavourful bread has won over hearts all across Italy with its delightful simplicity and perfect harmony of tastes.
If you’ve ever had the chance to taste the traditional “fcazz” (that’s Apulian dialect for focaccia), you’ll know that there’s simply nothing like it in the world! It’s the ultimate go-to snack, no matter the time of day or night.
- Chardonnay di Castel Del Monte
- Cesanese del Piglio
- Lagrein Rosé
- Secco di Gravina
- Primitivo del Salento
- Malvasia Nera di Lizzano
Now, the history of this heavenly baked treat is both ancient and fascinating. Its roots trace back to the ancient Phoenicians, and even Cato, way back in the 2nd century BC, mentioned a round, stone-cooked mix of millet, barley, water, and salt. In ancient Rome, people offered it to the gods for blessings, and during the Renaissance, it was the star attraction at parties and wedding feasts.
In Puglia, focaccia likely evolved from the traditional bread of Altamura or Laterza. It was typically baked when the oven was still heating up for bread-making and hadn’t yet reached high temperatures (since focaccia needs less heat).
Now, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” recipe for the focaccia. It varies based on personal tastes and what part of Apulia you’re from. The topping I propose is the simpler version of the Apulian focaccia, just with cherry tomatoes and olive oil. However, you’ll always find a base of fine semolina and other flours and boiled potatoes for the extra softness! Add in yeast, salt, water, and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and you’ve got the makings of a masterpiece.
The real trick, though, is in the long, double-rise process: you cannot rush the making of the focaccia. The result? A versatile, long-lasting treat that’s perfect for breakfast, snack, aperitif, or even as a substitute for bread at the table. Throw in some cold cuts and a side salad, and you’ve got yourself a complete meal!
Cherry tomato focaccia contains a moderate amount of carbohydrates, some healthy fats from the extra virgin olive oil, and a moderate amount of protein from the flour and semolina. Including vegetables such as cherry tomatoes and oregano provides additional nutrients, fiber, and flavour. Overall, this focaccia can be part of a healthy and balanced diet when consumed in moderation and paired with other nutrient-dense foods.
- Proteins 10% 10%
- Carbs 67% 67%
- Fats 27% 27%
Let’s talk about flour for your cherry tomato focaccia (or any focaccia, really). The flour you use is super important because it can affect the texture and rise of your dough. So, what’s the best flour to use? I recommend using a strong bread flour like manitoba flour. This type of flour will help your dough rise high and make it soft and delicious.
Now, let’s talk about semolina (durum wheat). For a soft bread, it’s best to use double-milled semolina, or semolina that’s as fine as possible. This will give your focaccia that perfect texture that you’re looking for.
But what if you want a bread that’s lower in gluten? No problem! You can use a mix of Khorasan wheat and spelt flour instead. These ancient grains are naturally low in gluten and easy to digest, so you can still enjoy a delicious focaccia without any discomfort.
When it comes to baking bread and focaccias, the right choice of yeast is important. Now, you might be wondering what type of yeast is the best to use. Well, I highly recommend using fresh yeast because it provides a richer, slightly sweeter flavor and better “rising” quality than its dried counterparts.
But here’s the thing: fresh yeast is highly perishable and needs to be stored in the fridge and used quickly. So, when you’re ready to use it, you’ll need to dissolve it in a little lukewarm water to activate it before adding it to your dough. And here’s a tip: don’t add salt to fresh yeast because it kills it. Instead, wait until the yeast is dissolved and mixed with the flour before adding salt a little later in the breadmaking process.
Now, what if you don’t have fresh yeast on hand? No worries, you can use dry yeast instead. Just refer to the instructions printed on the packaging to ensure you’re using the right amount for your recipe.
Ideally, you want to choose a tomato variety that’s sweet and juicy, like piccolo tomatoes or pachino tomatoes.
Now, here’s the key: the flavour of the tomato will have a big impact on the overall flavour of your focaccia. So, it’s important to choose a tomato that’s super fresh, with its stems still on (that way you can ensure its freshness).
But wait, there’s more! To really infuse your tomato (and your oil) with a delicious taste, don’t forget to marinate it for a couple of hours with olive oil and oregano. Trust me, this little step will take your focaccia from good to amazing.
Have you ever heard of using potato in your focaccia recipe? Well, let me tell you – it’s the secret weapon that will take your focaccia to the next level! Adding a mashed boiled potato to your dough will make it super soft and delicious.
But not all potatoes are created equal! To get the best results, you want to use a floury potato, like the ones used to make baked potatoes. How can you tell the difference between a floury potato and a waxy one (which are great for salads, by the way)? Easy – just look at the color of their flesh. Floury potatoes have a paler flesh, while waxy potatoes are more yellow.
I just have to keep saying it – if you want your dishes to taste out-of-this-world delicious, you absolutely need to pick up a top-notch extra-virgin olive oil. Trust me, there’s just no other way around it!
Especially when it comes to a mouth-watering cherry tomato focaccia, choosing the right olive oil is key. Not only will it add that perfect amount of moisture and softness to the bread, but it’ll also infuse those juicy tomatoes with even more flavour during the marinade. Seriously, every ingredient counts, so you want to make sure you’re using the best possible one for the job.
If you’re not sure how to choose a quality olive oil, don’t worry – I’ve got you covered. Check out my article all about the subject and you’ll be a pro in no time.
Cherry Tomato Focaccia
- Total Time: 3h 40 minutes
- Yield: 10 portions 1x
- Diet: Vegan
Cherry tomato focaccia is a delicious and savoury bread recipe that’s topped with juicy cherry tomatoes and a drizzle of olive oil. It’s a popular dish from Apulia, and it’s perfect as an appetizer or side dish, and it’s super easy to make at home!
- 300 grams Strong Bread Flour
- 200 grams Fine durum wheat semolina
- 330 ml Water
- 12 grams Fresh brewer’s yeast
- 1 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Sugar
- 100 grams Potato (boiled)
- 12 grams Salt
- 300 grams cherry tomatoes
- oregano to taste
- Coarse salt
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Boil the medium potato, skin on, in salted water for 30-40 minutes. Once cooked and still warm, mash the potato and set aside 100 grams for the focaccia dough.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine 300 ml of water, sugar, oil, and crumbled yeast. Stir the mixture with a spoon.
- Gradually add the flour, semolina, and mashed potato to the mixture. Knead the dough vigorously until it becomes elastic.
- Slowly incorporate the remaining 30 ml of water into the dough, followed by the salt. Continue kneading for an additional 10 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, sprinkle the surface with a little semolina, and cover with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in an unheated oven with the light on, and allow the dough to rise for 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
- While the dough rises, halve the cherry tomatoes and season them with a pinch of salt, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and oregano. Set aside to marinate.
- Once the dough has risen, divide it in half and prepare two 32 cm round pans (or rectangular oven dishes) by drizzling each with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, ensuring the entire surface is covered.
- Place the first portion of dough into one of the prepared pans, flipping it to ensure both sides are well-greased. Use your fingertips to gently spread the dough from the center outwards, filling the entire pan.
- Arrange the marinated cherry tomato halves across the surface of the focaccia, reserving the tomato juice.
- Repeat steps 8 and 9 with the second portion of dough.
- In the bowl containing the reserved tomato juice, add 4 tablespoons of olive oil, mix, and drizzle the mixture over each focaccia. Sprinkle coarse salt and oregano over the top.
- Cover the trays with plastic wrap and allow the focaccias to rise in the unheated oven for 1 hour, resulting in a thick and soft bread.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C (fan 200°C) / 425°F/ gas mark 7. Gently press the cherry tomatoes into the risen dough.
- Bake the focaccias on the bottom shelf of the preheated oven for 8 minutes, then transfer to the middle shelf and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Remove the focaccias from the oven and allow them to cool slightly before serving.
Cherry tomato focaccia is a delicious and versatile Italian bread that is perfect for any occasion. It can be enjoyed fresh from the oven or just as scrumptious and tender the following day.
Using Dried Yeast: If you prefer using dried yeast instead of fresh yeast, you will need 6 grams of dried yeast for this recipe. Follow the package instructions to activate and incorporate the dried yeast into your dough
Storing and Freezing: To maintain its freshness, store the focaccia in the refrigerator for up to 1 day. For longer storage, the focaccia can be frozen and enjoyed later.
Adjusting Yeast and Leavening Times: If desired, you can reduce the yeast amount to half (6 grams) and extend the leavening time to 6-7 hours. Alternatively, prepare the dough the night before and place it in the refrigerator’s lower part (vegetable department). The following day, remove the bowl and allow it to rest at room temperature for 4 hours before continuing with the Apulian focaccia preparation.
For a Flatter and Crunchier Focaccia: Simply roll out the dough, season it, and bake immediately for a thinner and crispier result.
Bakeware Requirements: For this recipe, you will need either two round pizza trays with a 32 cm diameter or two rectangular oven dishes measuring 35 x 23 cm. Choose the bakeware that best suits your preference for the final shape of your focaccia.
Dividing the Dough: If you have smaller round trays, this recipe will yield three 27-28 cm focaccias.
Seasoning and Stuffing Variations: This focaccia can be adorned with not only sunken cherry tomatoes but also garlic cloves, sliced red onions, and black olives for a more flavourful experience. For a simpler version, opt for just the tomatoes. Additionally, this focaccia is tall enough to be stuffed with a variety of fillings like mortadella and provola (traditional Apulian choices), or other cured meats and cheeses.
A Friendly Reminder: Please note that this focaccia recipe should not be confused with pizza pugliese, which is a pizza base topped with tomato, mozzarella, and onion.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Rest Time: 3 hours
- Cook Time: 18 minutes
- Category: Baking
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: Tomatoes, extra-virgin olive oil, oregano, vegetarian, vegan, healthy