Thursday, 5 September 2013 | 26 comments

Basil focaccia with summer tomatoes

We’ve rounded the corner into September, and I have that funny feeling in my belly, like I need to be sharpening my pencils or catching up on the list of summer reading. Even though all the little kiddos in town are back to school though, it is still summer, and we’re still getting a lot of tomatoes. Are you tuning out? Have I talked too much about tomatoes lately? Oh well.
After all this time of eating nearly-naked tomatoes to appreciate their summery perfection, I’m finally back to being able to entertain the idea of using them as an actual ingredient or complement to something. I got stuck on the idea of tomato-basil focaccia, but I don’t always love the way herbs bake up in the oven—kind of weird and crunchy. So, I just stirred the basil into the dough, and it turned out beautifully. The tomatoes crinkle and steam down into a soft, jammy topping that makes this bread almost a meal unto itself.

(I really love focaccia-style breads—they’re yeasted but not fussy, totally delicious, and doable within a day (although forgiving enough for an overnight rise). Here are two other focaccias that have appeared here, all based on the same template from David Tanis: Focaccia with scallions & sage and Rustic harvest bread with merlot grapes)

Basil focaccia with summer tomatoes

Adapted from David Tanis’s recipe in The Heart of the Artichoke

You know me—I’m normally all about kosher salt, but there’s something really nice about the flaky crunch of a splurge-ier salt on this foccacia bread—so I used a little Maldon for finishing. Kosher, or any other salt, will certainly do, though.

You’ll need

  1. 1 1/2 cups warm water
  2. 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  3. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  4. 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  5. 1 cup sweet basil, roughly chopped
  6. 2 teaspoons fine-grained or kosher salt
  7. 1/2 cup olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
  8. About 2 pounds tomatoes–heirloom varieties such as Cherokee Purple work nicely here–sliced about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick
  9. Coarse salt, such as Maldon, for sprinkling


  1. Mix yeast into 1/2 cup of the water in a large bowl, and ‘feed’ it with 3 tablespoons of the all-purpose flour. Let sit until bubbly, about five minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the flour and water, the basil, salt, and olive oil, and mix with a wooden spoon until it forms a sticky, shaggy ball. Sprinkle with a little flour, turn out onto the counter, and work with your hands just for a minute or so.
  3. Lightly oil a bowl (if you’re like me and want to minimize dishes, wash the bowl you mixed the dough in and then oil it), place the ball of dough inside and cover the bowl tightly.
  4. Put the bowl in the fridge overnight to rise, or alternatively, let it sit at room temperature on the counter for about four hours. It will not double in size like other yeasted doughs, but it will rise significantly.
  5. The next day, or after the countertop rise, line a sheet pan with parchment paper, generously oil the parchment paper, and gently press the dough in. Be generous with the oil, this helps give the focaccia to obtain its signature crunchy crust.
  6. Allow to rise again in a warm place for about an hour.
  7. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly dimple the surface of the dough with the pads of your fingers. Arrange the tomato slices on the surface of the dough, not completely covering its surface. Press them into the dough gently. Drizzle with olive oil and coarse salt, and bake for 25-35 minutes, or until golden brown.

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§ 26 responses to Basil focaccia with summer tomatoes

  • Since I didn’t grow tomatoes this year, pretty much all of them from the market have just ended up in my mouth with little more than salt and olive oil. Without a crazy abundance of tomatoes (like in your last post!), it’s hard to think about eating them any other way. However, I now have run of some friends’ garden while they are away on their honeymoon, and they have lots of tomatoes coming in! So, perhaps by the end of the week, I’ll be ready to put tomatoes to another use. I like the idea of these jammy tomatoes!

  • One can never talk too much about tomatoes, Sarah. ;)
    I absolutely love focaccia and, as you’ve mentioned, they seem to be very easy to make. I just might give this one a try and top it with tomatoes from our garden.
    Thank you for the recipe and for the links to other focaccia ideas.

  • I’m never sick of fresh, summer tomatoes. Although, I am starting to get excited about all things autumn already! This recipe looks excellent; I’ll have to look into gluten free focaccia…

  • Pip


    I’m inspired by reading your blog and looking at your images. I really love the layout of your blog, did you use a wordpress theme and if you don’t mind, which one did you use?


  • This is gorgeous! Love the flavour :)

  • What a beautiful focaccia full of lovely summer harvest! This is perfect for a dinner next week, thank you!

  • Absolutely beautiful!

  • What a great way to enjoy summer’s tomatoes! The focaccia looks so colorful and tasty.

  • Mary

    I’ve been enjoying your blog for several months. I’m writing to ask a simpleminded question: What size pan did you use? I’m thinking about making this as part of a lunch for 10 people (after we do some gardening together) and I want to make sure they get enough to eat.

    • Hi Mary,
      I used a half sheet pan, which I think is about 12 by 16 inches. You could go smaller (your bread will be thicker, but that’s not a bad thing) but I wouldn’t go much larger with a pan. Hope that helps! –S

      • Mary

        Yes, it helped — and the focaccia was a big hit (even though I don’t think the crust was very crunchy — will have to see if I can improve on that).

        Thanks again for your blog —

        • Good! You have to be pretty liberal with the olive oil on the baking sheet/parchment paper for the crunch–it might seem like too much, but it so worth it. —S

  • Just recently stumbled upon your blog, and this was the first post I read. I made this focaccia last night and it was fantastic. Even the pickiest eaters at our table adored it. Thanks for such a great recipe!

  • In my mind it’s not possible to talk too much about tomatos! And such lovely looking ones at that.
    I am prinitng this recipe to take to my vacation rental by the beach in tuscany, what a perfect looking recipe. i will make this and whatch the sea roll in…
    Thank you for this.

  • I love David’s recipe and have made sweet grape foccacia – but this looks fun too. You can never have too many tomato recipes, btw, they are spilling out all over the place!

  • Berta

    Your focaccia looks great!

    Most of my tomatoes are still green. I think it was just too cool for them to ripen. Last year I had such a great crop, I guess it all evens out…

  • I love focaccia and this recipe is so pretty!

  • Sarah:

    BEAUTIFUL blog. I love it!

    You can never talk too much about tomatoes. I am a tomato FREAK. As a kid, I used to spend hours and hours in the garden with my grandfather. He was the best tomato-grower I knew. : – )

    Nowadays, I’m growing tomatoes (and other vegetables) in raised beds. This year there’s a bumper crop. And I’m loving it!

    Thanks for sharing the recipe. It looks wonderful!

  • I personally like the ideas you have pointed out, Nice post.

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