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Pesto Tomato Focaccia Bread

Today, I’m bringing you a delightful twist on the classic focaccia bread by drawing inspiration from an old culinary textbook I had back in college.

Now, taking a crack focaccia was a bit of a wild ride for me, as I’ve never made it. But, being the ambitious recipe tester that I am, I decided to pull the bread baking knowledge I had (with a heavy refresher from a section called, “Dough Formulas an Techniques”) and added my own little festive twist!

The result? Well… let’s just say it was a day of testing and tweaking – but my gosh, was it worth it! Keep scrolling to see how I did it!

Jump to Recipe!
Pesto Tomato Focaccia Bread - by Shauna Contois, Food Photographer in Rochester, NY

Pesto Tomato Focaccia Ingredients

  • Water
  • Active yeast
  • Flour
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Olive oil
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Sea salt
  • Pesto

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Making the Focaccia

Pesto Tomato Focaccia Bread - by Shauna Contois, Food Photographer in Rochester, NY

Activate the Yeast

Start by mixing the active yeast into a Pyrex or bowl of 100-degree Fahrenheit water. Allow it to sit for about 10 minutes until it becomes frothy, indicating that the yeast is activated and ready to do its thing.

Mix the Dough

In a mixer, combine the activated yeast mixture with flour, salt, and sugar using a dough hook (or C-hook). Now, the recommendation for this was to kneed on the lowest speed for about 8 minutes, or until the dough comes together.

For me, I mixed the dough for nearly 25 minutes and even upped it to speed 2-3 after a while because my dough was super sticky. I even added a little more flour to help it come together, and that seemed to get it to a more elastic consistency.

NOTE: My book did suggest that mixing times will vary depending on the mixer used, and considering my inspo for this recipe came from a culinary book teaching aspiring chefs – well, my little KitchenAid doesn’t compare to the industrial versions they’re using in commercial kitchens, so I kept that in mind when extending my mixing time.

Fermentation

After some intense mixing 🤪, place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover it with a damp cloth to help it retain moisture. Let it ferment in a room at around 75 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes, allowing the flavors to develop and the dough to become wonderfully “airy.”

Proofing

After fermentation, transfer the focaccia dough to an oiled baking sheet. Stretch it to fit, creating a rustic-looking rectangle. Cover it with a wet towel and let it proof in an 80-degree room for about 1 hour and 45 minutes or until the dough doubles in size.

Preheat and Top

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Before baking, create small dimples in the dough’s surface with your fingertips. Spoon dollops of pesto over the dough, making a swoosh design with a spoon. Then, place cherry tomatoes in empty spaces, creating a festive palette of red and green. Sprinkle sea salt.

Pesto Tomato Focaccia Bread before baked - by Shauna Contois, Food Photographer in Rochester, NY

Bake to Perfection

Bake the focaccia in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. For the first 10 minutes, place a water bath in the oven to help form those crispy edges that make focaccia irresistible. This can be done by simply adding a cup of water to a baking sheet and placing it on the bottom rack of your oven. It will be steamy! Keep a close eye on your focaccia to achieve that desired golden-brown color.

Pesto Tomato Focaccia Bread in water bath - by Shauna Contois, Food Photographer in Rochester, NY

Slice & Enjoy!

Once out of the oven, allow the focaccia to cool slightly before slicing and enjoying.

This Pesto Tomato Focaccia Bread will be the perfect appetizer for your upcoming holiday party – or even as a special snack paired with hearty soup on a chilly day. Happy baking!

Festive Focaccia Bread - by Shauna Contois, Food Photographer in Rochester, NY

Pesto Tomato Focaccia Bread

Today, I’m bringing you a delightful twist on the classic focaccia bread by drawing inspiration from an old culinary textbook I had back in college. Crispy, chewy, and hella flavorful! Check it out!
Prep Time3 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Keyword: bread, focaccia, snacks
Servings: 12 pieces

Ingredients

  • 12 oz water
  • 1/2 oz active yeast
  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Olive oil for brushing
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Sea salt
  • Jarred pesto for topping

Instructions

Activate the Yeast

  • Start by mixing the active yeast into a Pyrex or bowl of 100-degree Fahrenheit water. Allow it to sit for about 10 minutes until it becomes frothy, indicating that the yeast is activated and ready to do its thing.

Mix the Dough

  • In a mixer, combine the activated yeast mixture with flour, salt, and sugar using a dough hook (or C-hook). Now, the recommendation for this was to kneed on the lowest speed for about 8 minutes, or until the dough comes together.

Fermentation

  • After mixing, place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover it with a damp cloth to help it retain moisture. Let it ferment in a room at around 75 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes, allowing the flavors to develop and the dough to become airy.

Proofing

  • After fermentation, transfer the focaccia dough to an oiled baking sheet. Stretch it to fit, creating a rustic-looking rectangle. Cover it with a wet towel and let it proof in an 80-degree room for about 1 hour and 45 minutes or until the dough doubles in size.

Preheat and Top

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Before baking, create small dimples in the dough’s surface with your fingertips. Spoon dollops of pesto over the dough, making a swoosh design with a spoon. Then, place cherry tomatoes in empty spaces, creating a festive palette of red and green. Sprinkle sea salt.

Bake to Perfection

  • Bake the focaccia in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. For the first 10 minutes, place a water bath in the oven to help form those crispy edges. Keep a close eye on your focaccia to achieve that desired golden-brown color.

Let’s Collab!

Are you a food and beverage brand? Then, let’s collaborate! As a food photographer and content creator, I can help you create mouthwatering imagery and content. Check out my portfolio here and my food photography services, here!

P.S. Be sure to pin this recipe to Pinterest for later!

Pesto Tomato Focaccia Bread - by Shauna Contois, Food Photographer in Rochester, NY
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