One-Hour Sun-dried Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella Focaccia Bread

When I told my family I was making focaccia bread, I heard crickets. No one was too terribly excited.

Then I told them it’s going to taste almost like pizza. Suddenly everyone got excited.

The bread is soft and chewy and loaded with tangy sun-dried tomatoes. Unbeknownst to me turn, sun-dried tomatoes turn almost black in the oven, at least these from Trader Joe’s did. Basil is the perfect complement to the tomatoes and everything is better topped with a little cheese.

The focaccia is fast and easy to make, proving it’s possible to have fresh, warm bread with dinner, even with short or no notice. It’s ready in one hour.

This is my sixth ready-in-one-hour recipe and all are the former are vegan. This dough is vegan, but the mozzarella is not. There’s One-Hour Pretzels,  One-Hour Whole Wheat Pizza DoughOne-Hour Soft Buttery BreadsticksOne-Hour Homemade Cinnamon Rolls, and One-Hour Soft Pretzel Bites.

Unlike many dinner roll recipes or loaves that have a lengthy initial rise (1-2+ hours), and then shaping the dough before the second rise (1 + hour), this dough rises once, for about 25 minutes.

To make the dough I used Red Star Platinum Yeast and it’s the only yeast I bake with. It’s the best and never lets me down. If you’re a novice bread-maker, consider this yeast your insurance against goofs because it’s very forgiving. Since it’s an instant yeast, you don’t have to proof it (let it stand with warm liquids for 10 minutes or until foamy). You simply add it with the other ingredients.

If you are an experienced bread maker, you’re going to love the extra puff and oven-spring you get with the Platinum. Your baked goods will rise higher and faster than you’re used to.

I used King Arthur All-Purpose because I wanted the bread to stay as soft as possible. Bread Flour will lend a chewier, thicker, denser result, more bagel-like. If you want to use whole wheat flour, read this post, don’t exceed more than 50% by volume of whole wheat flour, and if you try it, let me know how it goes.

After about 5 minutes of kneading, the dough looks like this. It’s firm, smooth, supple, and not at all sticky.

Roll the dough out into a large oval and so that it’s about 1/2-inch thick. It should cover about two-thirds of your baking sheet. The shape really isn’t important. I went with a rustic oval because my rolling pin steered itself and it’s the least fussy, but you can roll it into a perfect rectangle if you wish.

The dough may be a little stubborn to roll. It’s very springy and may want to recoil, but just keep rolling and finessing until you’ve gotten it to the proper size. Place it on a baking tray, cover with plasticwrap, and wait.

After about 25 minutes, use your fingertips to create dimples. The dough is so soft, smooth, and making those big dimples is like playing with Play-Doh for grownups.

Top with sun-dried tomatoes, including the oil. I used Trader Joe’s Julienne Sliced Sun Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil. Since traditional focaccia is made with lots of olive oil, the flavor-infused olive oil from the tomatoes is a great choice.

Top with basil (I used fresh but dried is okay), cheese, and bake until the bread is cooked through and the cheese is melted and golden. This was 25 minutes in my oven, but will vary based on how juicy or oily your tomatoes are, how your cheese melts, and oven and climate variances.

I adore sun-dried tomatoes for both their flavor and texture. Usually I get them dried and sold in a pouch like raisins, so having them oil-packed was a treat unto itself.

The additional chewiness they lend to the already chewy bread with gooey, melted cheese is perfect.

The flavor pairing of tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella just work so well.

Fast, easy, and ready in one hour so there’s no excuse not to have fresh homemade bread with dinner.

One-Hour Sun-dried Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella Focaccia Bread

The bread is soft and chewy, loaded with tangy sun-dried tomatoes, and the basil is the perfect complement to the tomatoes. Of course, everything is better topped with a little cheese. The bread is fast, easy, and ready in 1 hour, proving it’s possible to have fresh homemade bread with short or no notice. Baking times will vary based on how juicy or oily your tomatoes are, how the cheese melts, and oven and climate variances. Watch your bread, not the clock, and bake until done in your oven.

Did you make this recipe?

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup water, warmed to manufacturer’s directions
2 1/4 teaspoons instant dry yeast (one 1/4-ounce packet, I use Red Star Platinum)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional and to taste
one 8.5-ounce jar sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, julienned or sliced thin
about 10 fresh torn basil leaves, divided (generous pinches dried basil may be substituted, to taste)
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, loosely packed when measuring

Directions:

  1. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook (or large mixing bowl and hand-knead), combine flour, water, yeast, oil, sugar, optional salt (remember the tomatoes are salted and so is the cheese), and knead for about 5 minutes, or until dough is soft, smooth, and has come together in a firm mass. If hand-kneading, you may need to knead a few minutes longer. Based brand of yeast used, water temperature will vary. Red Star Platinum yeast calls for a warmer temperature than most, 120 to 130F; other brands are lower, about 95 to 105F. Warm water according to the yeast manufacturer’s recommendations on the packaging. Taking the temperature with a digital thermometer is recommended, but if you’re not, make sure the water is warm, not hot. Err on the cooler rather than hotter side so you don’t kill the yeast.
  2. Turn dough out onto a Silpat-lined countertop (provides nice traction) or just the bare counter. Roll the dough into a large oval or rectangle (shape doesn’t matter) so it’s about 1/2-inch thick and covers about two-thirds of a standard baking sheet (my baking sheet is 17 inches long).
  3. Place rolled dough onto a Silpat-lined  or cooking sprayed baking sheet.
  4. Cover with plasticwrap and allow to rise for about 25 minutes.
  5. While dough rises, preheat oven to 350F. Tip – keep baking sheet with rising dough on the stovetop (make sure it’s off) because the yeast will benefit from the carryover heat from the preheating oven.
  6. After 25 minutes, using your fingertips, create dimples evenly over the surface of the dough. It’s okay to press almost all the way down because the dough will re-inflate quickly.
  7. Evenly top with sun-dried tomatoes and oil. Some of the oil will runoff, that’s okay.
  8. Evenly top with half the torn basil leaves or sprinkle with dried basil; reserve remainder for after baking to garnish.
  9. Evenly top with cheese.
  10. Bake for about 23 to 26 minutes, or until bread is cooked through  and the cheese is melted and golden. Mine took 25 minutes. Baking time will vary based on how juicy or oily your tomatoes are, how much cheese was added, and oven and climate variances. Watch your bread and not the clock.
  11. Garnish with reserved basil and serve immediately. If during baking your bread rose and it’s quite puffed and you prefer the cosmetic look of flatter bread, use the blunt end of a wooden spoon to create dimples, thereby flattening the bread. Bread is best warm and fresh, but will keep airtight for up to 2 days. Before eating leftovers, heat for 5 seconds in micro to soften.
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