I don’t make bread too often, but it’s fun to try something different once and a while. Usually, my bread-making involves dumping a bunch of ingredients into a bread machine. I just love waking up on Christmas to the smell of freshly made bread wafting through the house. More importantly, it’s nice to avoid waking up at 5 am to bake.
This focaccia is super-easy to make and is ready in just over 1 1/2 hours. It is brushed with pesto, making each bite savory and flavorful. This focaccia can be served as a side, pizza base, or even as sandwich bread.
Focaccia isn’t simply pizza dough topped with herbs and spices. Pizza dough doesn’t use as many leveling agents such as yeast, so it is thinner and more dense. Focaccia dough rises much more, making it perfect for soaking up sauces or olive oil.
I shaped the focaccia into 6 pieces, each about 7 inches in diameter. You may also shape the dough into two rectangular pieces, then cut it into breadsticks after baking.
Feel free to add as much or as little pesto as you want. I brushed a fairly thin layer of pesto over the dough, so I had a bit of the spread left over. Unlike traditional pesto, I didn’t add pine nuts directly to the sauce. Instead, I like leaving the pine nuts whole or coarsely crumbled for a nice crunch.
I’ve had a little trouble finding great basil this year. I feel like I’ve just been getting bitter, woody basil leaves that have been almost inedible. Thankfully, I found a plant at a Trader Joe’s across town that was much better. However, now my kitchen windowsills have been transformed into herb gardens.
I have a feeling that you may be seeing variations of this focaccia on That Oven Feelin’ soon!
- 300mL water, lukewarm
- 2¼ tsp active dry yeast
- 2 tsp sugar
- 500g all-purpose flour
- 1½ tsp salt
- 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves
- 1 tbsp dried Italian seasoning
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- salt and pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- ¼ cup pine nuts, chopped (optional)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the yeast, sugar, and 100 mL of the lukewarm water. Allow the mixture to sit for up to 5 minutes, until the yeast has dissolved fully.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, and olive oil. Add the flour mixture to the bowl of the stand mixture. Using a dough hook, knead until the dough is smooth. The dough should be tacky, but workable (add additional flour or water, if needed). Sprinkle a dusting of flour over the dough, cover, and let rise for 1 hour.
- While the dough is rising, prepare the pesto spread. Add the basil, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil to a blender. Pulse until finely chopped, scraping down the sides of the blender, if nessessary. Set aside.
- After rising, divide the dough into 6 equal sized pieces. Shape the pieces into circles, about 6 to 7 inches in diameter and place on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise for 15 to 20 minutes.
- As the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Using your finger, make several depressions into each disk of dough. Brush the pesto mixture over each piece, then sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the focaccia. Add the chopped pine nuts, if desired.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes and let cool on a wire rack.