Tomato Cheese Focaccia

So what do you say of having three co-hosts? Yep! The calm (Selma @ Selma’s Table) and the (bouncy and) hyper co-host is back. 😀 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? 😀

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 can’t stay calm. They had to give me cups and cups of Chamomile tea. It helped, but not for long. It’s good that they did not lock up the dessert bar, or else I’ll be in misery. 😐

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 don’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 means… FOOD TRIP. (e-food trip, actually!) Nonetheless, we still talk about food.

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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. I’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 wrong…

I got the yeast activated for the first time when I baked Ensaymada, which is a Filipino bread. I was so happy with the result. 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 didn’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 – that’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 I’ve taken, thinking I could post it one day.

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I realized that I did not know the basics in baking, so I decided to ask Google’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, it’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 Challenge came. Thank you to our mastermind and judges for the FFC#1 – Catherine @ Catherine Cuisine  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 I’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 ‘Okaaaay! I better meet up with the yeast beast one more time!’… and I did.

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Last week, I was busy thinking of what to bake that use yeast and herb together. I listened to Google’s suggestion, but Focaccia bread got my heart. Well, aside from the fact that I don’t think I have eaten one, it seemed a little different from the breads that I’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, that’s that time I searched what is Focaccia. I felt proud when I found out that Focaccia is Italian bread. I was like ‘Wow! I made Italian bread!’. And according to my search, Fougasse (Angie’s submission) is a French version of Focaccia. 😀

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

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Tomato Cheese Focaccia

Ingredients

  • 250 ml warm water
  • 2 tsp instant yeast/active dry
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 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. Cover the baking pan and let rise again for 30-45 minutes or until doubled in size.
  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 source recipe here.

Okay! Let’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 don’t try it? And my goodness, the house smelled really amazing!
  • It’s delicious.
  • The bread was soft except the bottom part.
  • The bread was light, not heavy and dense like the first breads I’ve baked.

…and for the not so good part –

  • The bottom of the bread was hard and chewy.

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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 don’t like too much smell of yeast on my bread, what could I do?
  • If I would half the recipe – let’s say I’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 it’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 it’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. 😀

ENJOY FF17!

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117 thoughts on “Tomato Cheese Focaccia

  1. hi, im sorry coz my last statement was wrong-
    what i meant was that in the Recipe Source the final (3rd) resting in the baking sheet was
    for 30-40 mins but you did not do it instead you baked it right after the second rest-
    my question is -is the third rest period necessary ? pl advice -thnks

    1. Oopppss!! You got me on that! I did let it rest for 45min (it is shown in the photo). I am not sure why I missed that in the instructions – sorry! Yes, it is necessary. Will update my recipe. I apologize for the confusion.

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