Tomato Cheese Focaccia

So what do you say of having three co-hosts? Yep! The calm (Selma @ Selmaโ€™s Table) and the (bouncy and) hyper co-host is back. ๐Ÿ˜€ And we are thrilled to co-host FF17 with the lovely Alex @ Dinner Daydreams who is always dreaming about what to make for dinner… Hmm, better to think of dinner than other stressful things, Right, Alex? ๐Ÿ˜€

And well, you know Selma – the ever welcoming, friendly and calm person. I really had an amazing time co-hosting with her during FF15. I still love her even if she reported me to Angie that I had been on sugar rush and I canโ€™t stay calm. They had to give me cups and cups of Chamomile tea. It helped, but not for long. Itโ€™s good that they did not lock up the dessert bar, or else Iโ€™ll be in misery. ๐Ÿ˜

I heard rumors that ‘dessert police’ are on their way to investigate. When that comes, Selma and Alex would be here; I will come back, definitely! Besides, this is Fiesta Friday All Night Long!

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It is really nice to gather every Friday for FF after a long week. Thanks to the amazing Angie for this fun and exciting party she has created. I donโ€™t frequently bake or cook the past weeks due to the busy schedule and I have not made a long list of what to bake for the month. So when I post a food recipe or anything food related, I better do it on Friday to share and chat with everyone. Besides, Fridays are better than other days – Friday means weekend (or almost weekend for some). And Friday meansโ€ฆ FOOD TRIP. (e-food trip, actually!) Nonetheless, we still talk aboutย food.

Winnie-the-Pooh

Some of you have already made submissions to FFC#1 and what can I say? They are all gorgeous.

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I still have to visit everyone before the deadline comes and read your story. If you would just be patient with me today, I will be sharing you my story:

Battle with the Yeast Beast

Using yeast has been my nightmare since I started baking. I thought yeast breads are just so easy to make – let the yeast activate, rise and bake. Well, maybe for others, but not for me.

The first time I used yeast was back in July 2013 when me and my friend made these Homemade Donuts. Iโ€™ve got help my friend, so my yeast activated. I loved the donuts and I thought that was the beginning of my good relationship with the yeast. I was wrongโ€ฆ

I got the yeast activated for the first time when I baked these Ensaymadas. I was so happy with the results. The bread was the way it should be the first day and the second day. But when the third day comes, the bread became dense and heavy. Were they dense and heavy before? I didnโ€™t notice.

Yeast and I saw each other once again when I tried baking dinner rolls. Sounds pretty delicious, right? While I was on the process of baking, I imagined my dinner rolls to be soft, light and buttery. Going back on that day, I think I did the right thing. But when I put melted butter on the top of the dough that has risen and ready to be put inside the oven, the dough sank. Just imagine a balloon deflated – thatโ€™s what happened. I still baked them, anyway. The dinner rolls were dense and heavy. I under kneaded the dough and I have not let the dough rise with the correct time – those were the mistakes I have seen. Good thing is the dinner rolls were still edible and when I microwaved them the next day, they were soft, but a little chewy. Below is one of the photos Iโ€™ve taken, thinking I could post it one day.

thenotsocreativecook-DinnerRolls

I realized that I did not know the basics in baking, so I decided to ask Googleโ€™s help. After searching on how many minutes to knead, I tried my luck again. This time, I decided to make white sandwich bread. So I kneaded the bread around 8-10 minutes and followed every instruction. The sandwich bread came dense and heavy (again!). Thankfully, itโ€™s still edible – just had to microwave the bread to become a little softer. To finish the bread quickly, I did make a Panini sandwich. (I wanted to share the photos, but I think I have already removed them from my disk.)

Then, I split up with the yeast. We did not see each other for months. I am planning not to see it for a longer time until Fiesta Friday Challengeย came. Thank you to our mastermind and judges for the FFC#1 – Catherine @ Catherine Cuisine ย and of course, Angie. The challenge is to use both yeast and herb in one recipe. When Angie posted about the challenge, I told her that Iโ€™d love to join even though I had a fight with the yeast beast so many times. I was shocked (yes!) when I saw my name on the list of participants and I was like โ€˜Okaaaay! I better meet up with the yeast beast one more time!โ€™โ€ฆ and I did.

thenotsocreativecook-Tomato&CheeseFocaccia1

Last week, I was busy thinking of what to bake that use yeast and herb together. I listened to Googleโ€™s suggestion, but Focaccia bread got my heart. Well, aside from the fact that I donโ€™t think I have eaten one, it seemed a little different from the breads that Iโ€™ve baked before. Although I know that this is just a friendly challenge, I was a bit intimidated with all the beautiful submissions. Regardless of that, I still wanted to try my luck. So I did bake over the weekend. After making the bread, thatโ€™s that time I searched what is Focaccia. I felt proud when I found out that Focaccia is Italian bread. I was like โ€˜Wow! I made Italian bread!โ€™. And according to my search, Fougasse (Angieโ€™s submission) is a French version of Focaccia. ๐Ÿ˜€

thenotsocreativecook-Tomato&CheeseFocaccia

In this bread, I used dried herbs. Italian seasoning to be exact – this includes Marjoram, Thyme, Rosemary, Savory, Sage, Oregano and Basil.

focaccia

Tomato Cheese Focaccia

Ingredients

  • 250 ml warm water
  • 2 tsp instant yeast/active dry
  • ยฝ tspย salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1ย tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 ยฝย cups all purpose flour
  • 3ย tbsp olive oil
  • 2ย large tomatoes, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add 1 tbsp olive oil, garlic powder, black pepper, Italian seasoning, sugar and salt. Mix well. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes until yeast is activated.
  2. Add half of the flour and mix well. Add the remaining flour until dough is formed.
  3. On a slightly floured surface, knead the dough until smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball.
  4. In a clean bowl, add 1 tbsp of olive oil and spread to the insides of the bowl.
  5. Place the ball-shaped dough and coat with olive oil.
  6. Cover the bowl with a cling wrap or lint free towel.
  7. Keep in a warm place for an hour or until doubled in size.
  8. When the dough has doubled in size, punch the dough down. Shape into a ball again and return to the bowl, cover and let rest for another 10-15 minutes.
  9. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  10. Roll out/stretch he dough into a 13 x 9 greased baking pan.
  11. Using your finger, make several indents on the dough.
  12. Brush with remaining 1 tbsp olive oil.
  13. Top with tomato slices and mozzarella.
  14. Bake for 18-24 minutes or until melted has melted and golden brown.
  15. Remove from the oven and let rest before cutting.

See sourceย recipe here.

Okay! Letโ€™s proceed with the results.

Good things first:

  • The bread smelled really amazing! At first I was hesitant to use Italian seasoning as I found the smell overpowering. But how would I know how it really tastes like if I donโ€™t try it? And my goodness, the house smelled really amazing!
  • Itโ€™s delicious.
  • The bread was soft except the bottom part.
  • The bread was light, not heavy and dense like the first breads Iโ€™ve baked.

โ€ฆand for the not so good part –

  • The bottom of the bread was hard and chewy.

thenotsocreativecook-Tomato&CheeseFocaccia2

May I call on the attention the mastermind/judges/host (the Yeast Queen – Angie) & co-host of this challenge to help me with the following problems I have encountered since the day I started baking bread?

  • When I brush the top of the dinner rolls with melted butter, they sank. Considering that I brushed them gently, what might be the problem?
  • Most of the breads I baked were dense and heavy.
  • The bottom part of the bread turns so brown if I try to bake it a little longer to get good color of the top of the bread.
  • I donโ€™t like too much smell of yeast on my bread, what could I do?
  • If I would half the recipe – letโ€™s say Iโ€™d like to bake 6 dinner rolls instead of 12, should I half everything including the time?
  • I am using an oven that needs oven thermometer (so that means itโ€™s not digital) so when I reach the required temperature (e.g. 350 F) and put the pan inside the oven, there are times that the temperature goes down (e.g. 325 F) so I bake it a little longer. Do you think itโ€™s one of the problems why I always get dense and heavy bread?
  • I always blame the kneading part. How to knead properly? Is it correct that kneading is just stretching out the dough GENTLY for a good 8-10 minutes?

Now, the table is open for discussion. ๐Ÿ˜€

ENJOY FF17!

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109 thoughts on “Tomato Cheese Focaccia

  1. Actually based on the pic’s you really did a great job at making focaccia. It is a rather dense bread, but your crumb just just perfect!!!

  2. After reading Catherine’s comment I would probably agree. Even though I’ve only baked with yeast once before. I’ve read that you can mist the top of the dough just before putting it in the oven and that will help with gaining a nice crust. A suitable small bowl of water in the bottom of the oven also helps. I have yet to try both of those ideas. Here’s a link for kneading dough which I found really useful: How to knead bread dough

    1. Thank you so much, Sir Johnny! I will put every tip/answer together and apply them the next time I make bread. I think yeast is really tough to me. ๐Ÿ˜ Hope you have a lovely day! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Oh my gosh, Jhuls, thank you for opening up the table for discussion on this on your post. Not only is your Yeast Beast journey informative, so too are the questions and answers here. I think I am also not adding enough water to the dough, and maybe adding too much flour to the kneading process. I thought I was under-kneading, but it may have been that I was just not getting that “tacky” consistency right. I must try my piroshkis ago using this knowledge. Your focaccia looks delicious, btw, even if the bottom was tough. I would probably just saw off the bottom and eat the rest! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. I’ve been wanting to open a discussion regarding yeast, Ngan! It’s just that I cannot find the right people to ask. Thank you to Angie & Catherine – because of their brilliant idea I finally found you, my dear friends, to help me on the long-time queries of mine. I bet that adding too much flour is one of the reasons why I’ve been having a problem with bread. I also read somewhere that when kneading, it is better to add water (by wetting the palms) instead of flour. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. You made me LOL when you said Selma reported you hahahaha… Girl, I think you might be the cutest/sweetest/wonderfulness blogger GF I have ever had. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Hello Jhuls! From my experience with bread making, a dense bread is often caused by not adding enough water to the dough (often the recipe is the problem and not your fault!)… I always follow Peter Reinhard’s advise: a bread dough should be tacky but not sticky… Meaning that when you touch it, it should not be sticky to the point of staying on your finger but should feel like touching the glue from a “Post-It”… I often try recipes with not enough water. When, after kneading, your dough look and feel like a firm, “bouncy” perfectly smooth ball, it probably lacks some water. A moister dough will produce bigger air bubble (because it is more elastic and relaxed).

    By the way, This looks like a delicious focaccia ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Catherine! I really appreciate it. I think I also add too much flour while kneading (by hand). I will remember this the next time I make bread. Have a wonderful day to you! โค

  6. I grew up with focaccia in Italy, I’m a focaccia addicted… my favourite one is with tomatoes, so thanks a lot for sharing this! I read that you didn’t like the smell of the yeast, next time try to let your dough rest for more time. I’m sure you won’t smell it anymore! I really happy you brought an Italian recipe to FF challenge! Have a great week!

    1. Thank you for the idea regarding the yeast! Do I have to decrease the amount of the yeast? ๐Ÿ™‚
      Thank you so much for stopping by & have a pleasant week.

  7. Hi,

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    1. Hi, Emelie! Thank you so much for contacting me regarding this. I am so honored that you wanted me on Mytaste.com. I will definitely check this out. Have a lovely weekend! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. I often reduce the amount the yeast used and if allowed enough time to rise, it usually works out just fine. I prefer fresh yeast over dried as it gives a softer texture…but that is just my opinion. I wouldn’t mind having a piece of your focaccia! Looks delicious!

    1. Thank you so much, Laila! I just asked one blogger about the amount of the yeast and I found the answer here. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Thank you for stopping by & I hope you have a lovely day!

  9. Much like you, yeast intimidates the heck out of me, but I’m thinking I could handle a Focaccia bread simply because I love this style of bread. Yours looks incredible, despite the hard and chewy bottom, and I am digging the tomatoes and Parmesan on top. Be still my yeastless heart.

    1. Ahh! I wonder when would yeast and Me be the best of friends! ๐Ÿ˜€
      Thank you so much for stopping by! I hope you have a wonderful week!

  10. Your Tomato and Cheese Foccacia, looks scrumptious! I wish I could give you tips in regards to working with yeast, but I’m afraid the only bread I have made was in a bread making machine, and in my opinion that doesn’t count. I have yet to make anything for the yeast challenge, I think I’m a bit nervous about it!

    1. Your thought of giving me some advice counts. ๐Ÿ˜‰
      My friends told me why wouldn’t I use bread machine and I told them that it’s not the bread itself that I wanted to achieve – I wanted to know how to make bread the old fashioned way. ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. I agree, I would love to learn to make bread the old fashion way, working with your hands and feeling the dough and knowing exactly what it needs, my mom does it like that all the time, I must get her to teach me ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. It looks great Jhuls! I’ve never had much of a problem with yeast, I don’t use it much but when I do it just seems to work for me so I guess I’m lucky. But that also means I don’t really have any tips! But I do love how this looks and sounds! Thanks for co-hosting again and have a great weekend

    1. Hello, my friend! Thank you for the link that you have provided me. According to it, I am measuring my flour the right way. Well, not the weighing part as I don’t own digital scale. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I believe that the problem is on the kneading part. I will try again and update. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you so much for taking to stop by, Rebecca! Hope you have a lovely weekend!

    1. Hi, Loretta! Yes, I am co-hosting again with Selma! I am just late to chat with some of the guests. But thank goodness, I am here now! ๐Ÿ™‚

      The recipe is a winner, if I just had made the bread perfect. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ And I love Winnie, too! ๐Ÿ˜€

      Thank you, Loretta! Are you enjoying the party?

  12. hahaha.. Jhuls! That was such a fun post to read. And we wait for fiesta friday just like Pooh! ๐Ÿ™‚ Your focaccia looks good to us but we’ve had really bad experiences with dense and heavy breads ourselves too so we know how it is…

    1. I hope I could be happy like Pooh after making this bread. Well, sometime it’s not about the results – it’s all about having the courage to face your fears. ๐Ÿ™‚ And I am proud to say that I did a good job in facing the yeast beast so many times. Thank for such comforting words, Aditi! Hope you have a wonderful weekend! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Well Jhuls, it looks beautiful and I think you did a wonderful job! From the photos we would never know that the bottom is hard! You might go to Youtube and watch people kneed bread. That is what I did and it was really helpful! I am going to try some more recipes with yeast and post them, I hope that you do too and we can compare notes! ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. I think I need to see you knead bread, Chef Julianna! ๐Ÿ˜€ I also felt that I did a wonderful job, though I did not get a victorious end. Anyway, we all sometimes do encounter failures before success, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

      I love the idea of us comparing notes. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thank you and have a wonderful weekend!

  14. Oh my! You are braver than me. I won’t even try… but I can smell your focaccia bread baking from here…. yummmmmm. And thank you for co/tri-hosting again this FF! Happy Fiesta Friday!

    1. That’s what baking taught me – to be brave. ๐Ÿ˜€ Although I have not been successful with yeast for how many attemps, I would definitely give it another shot. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Jhuls I just love any kind of foccacia and I think you did a great job and an “A” for effort. I took a foccacia/ciabatta cooking class at Zingerman’s Bakery awhile ago and I still have yet to make this bread. I will certainly add your version to my list ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Hey gorgeous, what a fab post!!! It looks like you did a great job to me! Enjoy co hosting again xx I’ll go back and look at the questions again later in case I can offer any answers xx

    1. Hi, Elaine! It’s fun to co-host again! ๐Ÿ˜€
      And I love the idea if you checking the questions again. I am in need of help with yeast! ๐Ÿ˜ Hope you have a lovely weekend!

  17. I LOVEEEE the pooh too! Pooh is my fav:) hahaha… but this dish looks YUMMY and I love the pics!!! Thanks so much for co-hosting again, you’re a relallllyyy fun host, I love it!!! Happy FF!!!

    1. Yay! I love Pooh, too, Stephanie! And Tigger, too! ๐Ÿ˜€
      I am happy to be back. I am delighted to know that you find me a fun co-host. ๐Ÿ˜€ Have a lovely weekend! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. I also have the problem with the bottom of the bread turning too brown, I’ll be looking to see if anyone has a solution for this!

  18. Thanks for hosting FF, you always pep it up with cute pictures and videos, this time it is Pooh! I share your dislike of the smell of yeast, I’m trying to work around it too, but the aroma of the end product somehow makes up or the smell. Thanks for sharing your questions here!

    1. Hi, Aspara! I am glad that I am not the only one who dislike the smell of yeast. Would you send me a message when you find out how not to get yeasty smell? ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks for coming over and for appreciating the photos/videos! Have a fab weekend!

  19. Hello my bubbly co-host! How I wish we were neighbours then we could present a united front against that yeast beast!!. Angie is right, there are lots of reasons for a heavy end result but I think that the most common one is adding too much flour when you are kneading because you feel the dough is too sticky. Just keep going without any extra flour and you will be surprised how it will come together and get soft and elastic. When I knead, I keep my left hand on the bottom of the dough and then pull and stretch at the top with my right hand, fold it over, give it a quarter turn and carry on. It’s all about developing the gluten strands. And letting it rest too. Your focaccia looks fabulous – I can smell those Italian flavours from here!! xx

    1. I will be the leader, Selma! ๐Ÿ˜€
      I’ve read about using water (wetting your palms) while kneading instead of flour. I might give that a try and follow your tip. Thank you, Selma! It so nice to be back with you! And I hope to be back again with you! No one should take you away from me! ๐Ÿ˜€

  20. I love the little gallery of shots showing the progression of the dough. And that one close up shot of the focaccia is killing me! I love bread and focaccia is such a wonderful example. Thank you for bringing this to the party!

  21. Hello Jhuls, if the smell of yeast is too much for you, sounds like you could reduce the amount of yeast you use for the bread. Iยดve learned oder time that most recipes recommend too much yeast, and the bread will be fine with much less. Kneading is , to me, the most important thing, aside from the time you give your dough to prove (whereas is doesยดt matter if itยดs a warm or cold environment, the yeast I use – fresh or instant – will prove even in the fridge). 10-20 g fresh yeast per 500 g flour will mostly work out fine…

  22. This focaccia looks so good!! I feel your pain about working with yeast, I’ve faced many problems too! I find reducing the baking time a bit according to your oven helps ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you again for inviting me to Fiesta Friday!

    1. I hope you are enjoying FF! ๐Ÿ™‚ I am so happy that you came and meet other bloggers.
      Thank you for coming over and for leaving lovely message. Hope you have a fab weekend! โค

  23. Ah yeast…I have a love-hate relationship with it, myself. When the recipes work and turn out well, we are absolutely in love with each other. When they fail, we’re like two cats in a bag.

    I know what it’s like when your dough deflates on you after the second rise. It makes me feel like a deflated balloon- just so disappointed (and angry).

    This looks like it turned out rather well though, so great job Jhuls. Wonderful addition to Fiesta Friday ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Yes! I was angry, Jess! The second rise means near to celebrating if you see those dough risen beautifully. And then when you brush them, BOOM! Your smile fades away!

      I feel proud to have made this bread after how many attempts to make a good one. Still, I am not 100% satisfied. But what matters most is I tried again. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thank you, Jess! Lovely to see you here!

    1. The dinner rolls, indeed look really good! You can’t tell something’s wrong! ๐Ÿ˜€
      And so is the focaccia! Thank you, Sonal!

  24. Jhuls! I am so missing you! โค So fun that you are co-hosting, or triple-hosting should I say! ๐Ÿ™‚ Your post had me laughing really hard. Truly, you have such a great sense of humor that brings others smiles and joy and laughter! I love it! Way to go on the focaccia! Looks so good! I love that last picture of it!

    1. Thank you so much. Lori! I don’t know if I really have good sense of humor, bur I think I am just comfortable in sharing everything with you and that makes me ME! ๐Ÿ˜€

      It’s my pleasure to co-host again. And I’ve missed you, too, Lori! Have a pleasant weekend to you! โค

      1. Well, believe it Jhuls…you DO have a wonderful sense of humor! ๐Ÿ˜€ Honestly, I love it! Your posts always get me to laugh!
        Big Hugs!

  25. Haha…I love that Pooh gif! So cute and happy! I think your focaccia looks absolutely delicious, Jhuls, but I’ll try to answer some of your questions. The easiest one first, when you halve your recipe, you do have to halve the ingredients, but not the time.

    Dense & heavy bread can be the result of many things, under-kneading, over-kneading, ingredient ratios off, dough hasn’t risen completely prior to baking, oven temperature too low, etc. Try to take notes next time what happens, so you can figure out what goes wrong. Really, practice makes perfect holds true for bread-making.

    You should call on Gerard@Bread and Tortillas. His entry is next to yours. He’s an expert in bread-making. He’ll deny it, but he is.

    1. Hi, Angie! I was catching up with FF and FFC entries, as well as my pending comments for almost 6 hours. Haha! It’s fun and Selma wanted me to go to bed! ๐Ÿ˜€

      That’s why I love Pooh – Pooh seems always happy. I guess me, too! ๐Ÿ™‚

      And about your answers, I guess I wouldn’t know now what went wrong to my breads. I am not sure if I under kneaded the dough or over kneaded it. I think I better take down notes next time and bug you again! ๐Ÿ˜€ Thank you, Angie! โค

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