Sunday, January 26, 2014

Focaccia Caprese-We Knead to Bake #13

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Caprese (in the style of Capri), is a dish prepared with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, then drizzled with olive oil. The key to a successful caprese style dish is that all the ingredients are fresh, whether in a salad, sandwich or main dish.  Focaccia is a perfect vehicle for a caprese. Homemade dough, similar to a pizza ingredient wise, but has more leavening and is typically rolled or hand pressed into a thicker layer of dough. Once the thick layer of dough has risen some, it is typically dotted with the fingers or a utensil  to create multiple indentations. Olive oil is brushed on the prepared dough prior to the topping ingredients. This was a perfect bread to make for our monthly We Knead to Bake Facebook group. What I really liked about Aparna's adaptation was the herb seasoned olive oil drizzled on the focaccia before baking! Dried basil, oregano, minced garlic and red chili flakes in olive oil was just the flavor kick the toppings needed!

Although this focaccia dough can be made in by conventional means, I used my bread machine to process the dough. By doing so, it frees me up for other kitchen tasks. The dough can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight before preparing the focaccia caprese.

For the Dough

2 tsp instant yeast
1-1/2 tablespoons sugar ( I used only 1 tablespoon)
3-1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing the dough
1-1 1/2 cups warm water

For the Topping

4-5 large tomatoes, Heirloom ones are great to use
1 6-7-inch round fresh mozzarella, cut into strips or slices
Fresh basil leaves, cut into strips, plus extra leaves for garnish

For the Herbed Oil

1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon finely minced garlic
Salt to taste

First make the herbed oil and set aside. In the bread machine pan according to manufacturer's instruction, add the ingredients for the dough. Process on the dough cycle taking care to check if  more flour or water is needed to achieve a soft elastic dough which is slightly sticky. When cycle has completed, remove the dough, shape into a round and place in an oiled bowl. Turn to oil both sides. Cover and let rise until almost doubled, about an hour.

When dough has risen, divide into 2 equal pieces. For smaller focaccia, divide into 4 equal pieces. You can shape the focaccia into rounds or rectangular pieces. Roll or press each portion into roughly a  5-inch by 7-inch piece. Rustic shaping is ok as the focaccia is a casual bread. Place each piece in a parchment lined baking pan, pressing to make sure the thickness of the layer is even. Let rise for about 20 minutes. Lightly oil your fingertips or a small spoon and press indentations into the focaccia. Brush with olive oil.

Bake at 410 °F until done and beginning to turn a light golden brown. Remove from oven, but keep oven on to finish the focaccia. Lightly drizzle some of the herbed oil over the focaccia, then place the mozzarella slices over the oil leaving no spaces. Arrange the tomato slices over the cheese and sprinkle with some of the chopped basil. Drizzle more herbed oil over. Bake the focaccia for 5-8 minutes until the cheese has melted. Remove from the oven. Cut into slices and serve while still hot. Makes 4-6 servings.

Thanks to Aparna for the delicious focaccia recipe. I barely had time to photograph them before we demolished the entire four! The topping ideas are endless and the unadorned focaccia can be sliced in half and made into panini or any sandwich.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

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