How much do I love thee, summer tomatoes?
Enough to have them in as many ways as possible as the season winds down. This focaccia recipe appeared in The Boston Globe earlier this week, but in case you missed it, here it is. I wanted to create a thick slab of herby, oil-infused bread that could soak up the delicious tomato juices using store-bought pizza dough.
Pizza dough is so easy to make that I rarely buy it, but I know for a lot of people, making it is a stretch (I use the overnight method here, which takes all of 5 minutes to mix.) The main difference between pizza and focaccia dough is that the latter is both thicker, softer, lighter and contains a lot more olive oil.
Store-bought dough pulled out of the fridge is like a very snappy rubber band, so it needs a little more coddling than dough you make yourself.
First, take it out of the fridge about 20 minutes before you want to use it to give it time to warm up and relax.
Next, roll it out on a floured work surface that is a little bigger than the pan. If you try to stretch it on an oiled baking sheet, it can be pretty uncooperative on top of a slippy, slidey surface. Once you’ve got it in the pan, douse it with olive oil and let it rise—I use a turned off oven that has been warmed at its lowest setting.
Give it a 10-minute pre-bake: this gives the dough a chance to puff and rise before it gets weighted down with the tomatoes. It doesn’t look too pretty at this point, but all will be gorgeous in the end.
After it has pre-baked, the surface of the dough is just slightly crusty. Set the tomatoes close together on top and bake again.
We couldn’t eat this all at one sitting. I ate the leftovers for breakfast, oh my!
Tomato Focaccia Recipe
1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/2 pounds pizza dough
Flaky sea salt, to taste
About 1/3 cup chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary, oregano, and thyme
3 pounds heirloom tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
1. Take the dough out of the fridge and let warm up for about 20 minutes. Set the oven at 200 degrees or at its lowest setting. When it reaches the temperature setting, turn off the oven.
2. Line the bottom of a quarter-sheet pan or 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Spread 2 tablespoons of oil over the bottom.
3. On a lightly floured board, roll the dough into a rectangle that is slightly larger than the size of the sheet pan. If the dough snaps back, cover it with a tea towel and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes and roll it again. (Cold dough will often shrink after it is rolled, but a rest gives the gluten a chance to relax.)
4. Transfer the dough to the parchment-lined pan. Press and stretch it into the corners. Drizzle with another 2 tablespoons of oil, and use the tips of your fingers spread the oil as you dimple the dough to form small impressions.
5. Set the pan in the turned-off oven and prop the oven door open a crack using the handle of a wooden spoon. Let the dough rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until it looks plump and slightly puffed. Remove it from the oven. Drizzle the dough again with a little more oil and dimple it again with your fingers. Sprinkle the top with about 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt and half the herbs.
6. Set the oven at 425 degrees.
7. Bake the dough for 10 minutes. Remove and top with the tomato slices, overlapping them slightly to cover the dough. Sprinkle with more oil, and spread it over the tomatoes with your hands. Sprinkle the tomatoes with more flaky salt.
8. Return the focaccia to the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes longer, or until the tomatoes are soft and the edges of the focaccia are crisp and golden. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Use a large spatula to release the dough from the sides and bottom of the pan and transfer it to a cutting board. Sprinkle with the remaining herbs and cut into squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.