Tomato Pesto Focaccia – Homemade focaccia dough is topped with basil pesto and fresh tomatoes, then baked to perfection.
Baking bread is one of my favorite things to do. There’s just something about the smell of fresh bread in the house that’s so comforting. And you cannot beat warm, crusty bread right out the oven. It’s addicting!
At some point, however, you need more than just bread. That’s when this Tomato Pesto Focaccia comes in. It has a chewy texture and crispy bottoms and is super flavorful from the pesto layer on top. Plus, it’s a great alternative to pizza when you’re trying to avoid dairy.
Without further ado, here is my Tomato Pesto Focaccia!
Making the dough
Focaccia dough is super simple to make. It is just yeast, water, olive oil, flour, and salt. The ingredients are mixed together to form a dough and then kneaded for 5 minutes until smooth. I use my mixer to make this process easier. The dough is transferred to a clean, oiled bowl and left to rest until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
Forming the focaccia
After the dough has risen, it’s punched down and placed on a greased pan. I used a 11×17 baking sheet but a 9×13 pan would work great, too.
Using your fingers, the dough is spread to cover the entirety of the pan in one even layer. Punch holes into the dough to form dimples. Let rise for another 20 minutes or until fluffy.
Baking the focaccia
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the focaccia with basil pesto and then top with sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle the top of the focaccia with salt, making sure to get the tomatoes.
Bake the focaccia until golden brown on top and the tomatoes have wilted, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before slicing into squares.
Tips and Tricks
- Salt the tomatoes. Adding salt to the tops of the focaccia brings out the flavor and helps the excess water release during the baking process.
- Pan size. I used a 11×17 baking sheet with a lip for this focaccia. But a 9×13 baking pan would also work great.
- Cook time. Make sure to bake the focaccia until the top is brown and the tomatoes are drying out. Otherwise, the dough may still be raw in the center.
Tomato Pesto Focaccia
- 1 ⅓ cup warm water
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
- 2 teaspoons flaky sea salt
- 5 Roma tomatoes sliced
- ½ cup basil pesto
- Add warm water and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer and stir. Sprinkle yeast over the mixture and let it sit for 10 minutes. It should be foamy after 10 minutes.
- Add flour, olive oil, and sea salt to the yeast mixture. Turn mixer to low speed. Once the dough comes together, increase speed to medium-low and knead for 5 minutes. If dough is still sticky after 5 minutes, add 2 tablespoons of flour and continue to mix until combined. The dough should be easier to handle now.
- Remove dough from mixing bowl and place into a large bowl greased with olive oil. Rotate dough in bowl to coat with olive oil. Cover with a damp towel and set aside to rise for 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Punch down risen dough with your fist to remove the air pockets. Remove dough from bowl and place on 11×17 pan greased with olive oil (a 9×13 pan also works). Using your fingers, spread dough out to cover the entire bottom of each pan. Cover pan and let dough rise for 20 more minutes.
- Once dough has risen, poke holes in dough with your fingertips. Spread dough with basil pesto and cover with sliced tomatoes. Finsih with a little more sea salt.
- Bake loaf for 25-30 minutes or until top is golden brown and tomatoes have wrinkled. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Remove loaves from pans and let them cool for a little longer before slicing and serving. Refrigerate any leftovers for up to 5 days.