Focaccia Caprese - We Knead to Bake # 13

Though I do not have a lot of bread recipes on the blog, I do bake them often and rather enjoy the whole process.  'We knead to Bake' is a group started by Aparna last January and I've been following all the breads that they have baked through the year. I'm super excited about being a part of the group and this is the first bread of the year.

I was really happy to see the bread we would be baking, first of all focaccia is a wonderful bread and secondly this one had all my favorite things on it. I wanted to bake the bread the day it was announced, but it took me a while to find really good mozzarella and fresh basil. And for the first time I did not cut down on the oil, rather used it quite generously and it made such a difference.

This time I used a shortcut and used my Kitchen Aid to knead the dough. I can't believe I never did that before. Making bread has never been easier! 
The bread baked beautifully and it was fabulous fresh out of the oven. It was soft and spongy and the cheese all melted and gooey and the flavors were just amazing.
Recipe has been adapted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen from The Kitchen Whisperer.

Focaccia Caprese

For the dough:
2 tsp instant yeast
1 1/2 tbs sugar
3 1/2 cups bread flour/ all purpose flour
 (I used all purpose flour and added 1 tbs vital wheat gluten to it)
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup oil (preferably olive oil)
1-1 1/2 cups warm water
A little more olive oil for brushing the dough

For the topping:
4-5 tomatoes, sliced thin
1 6-7" round piece of fresh mozzarella, cut into thin slices
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips

For the herbed oil:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/4-1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1/2 tsp finely minced garlic/paste
salt to taste

Basil leaves for garnishing

Herbed Oil:
Put all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together. Keep aside.

Take the flour, sugar, yeast, salt and oil in a bowl and mix to combine. Add 1 cup of warm water and mix with your fingers to form a dough. Add  more water if needed. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead until you have a soft elastic dough, that us just short of sticky. Shape into a round and place in a well oiled bowl turning the dough around so it is coated. Cover and let it rise till almost double in volume. This should take about an hour.

**I kneaded my dough in my KA mixer using the dough hook. I set it at speed 4 and mixed for about 8 minutes until I had a smooth dough. You can also use a food processor.

After the dough has risen, divide it into two equal portions. Place the dough into a greased pan and press and spread the dough with your fingers until they are approximately 11” by 7” in size. The shape does not really matter as the focaccia is a rustic bread, but try to get it evenly thick. Cover and let rise for about 20 minutes.

Generously brush the surface of the bread with olive oil and use your fingers to create evenly spaced 'dimples' all over the surface of the dough.
Bake at 210C (410F) for about 18 to 20 minutes till it is almost done and is beginning to turn golden brown. Take the Focaccia out and turn up the heat of your oven to 230C (450F).

Lightly drizzle some of the Herbed Oil over the Focaccia and then evenly arrange some slices of mozzarella all over the bread, leaving very little space between them. Top the cheese with the tomato slices and sprinkle the chopped basil over this. The topping should cover most of the surface of the bread.
Drizzle some more Herbed Oil over the topping and return the bread to the oven. Bake the Focaccia for 5 to 8 minutes or until the cheese has just melted. Remove from the oven and garnish with fresh basil leaves.
Cut the Focaccia into slices and serve while it is still hot. 
This recipe serves 4 if served alone or 6 if served with a side.

This bread is being yeastspotted!