Pesto Caprese Focaccia

Give pretty much anything with pesto or caprese and I’m in. What’s not to love? I love pesto, I love tomatoes, I love fresh mozz, I love balsamic. Now, if I could go directly to Italy and get some Mozzarella di Bufalo omg this would be even better. If you haven’t ever had it (and you can get it here but not in my tiny town) I definitely recommend. It’s the best mozzarella. All of this on top of my focaccia? Chef’s kiss. Pesto caprese focaccia is almost like eating pizza, just as delicious for sure.

Traditional caprese salads in Italy are almost more like an appetizer than a salad. It’s slices of tomatoes layered with slices of mozzarella, a garnish of basil and often a drizzle of balsamic. For this focaccia I chose to use pesto instead of fresh basil, but you could always add some fresh basil before serving.

This recipe is my No-Fuss Focaccia with toppings. So if you want a good base focaccia recipe but not so much the cheese and pesto? (Who are you??) Or if you’ve never made focaccia and would like to see the process, start there. However, if you want all the goodness too, keep reading.

This IS an overnight bread. That might sound like a lot of work but this bread has no kneading, hardly any mixing. It’s mostly set it and forget it. First, mix the dough, pop it into the fridge and wait. Next, you add a few toppings and it’s ready to bake!

Key Ingredients

  • Pesto – Fresh or jarred is fine, but you want a pesto that is more loose than a thick paste. You want to be able to easily spread it over the dough.
  • Mozzarella – If you can’t find fresh you can use low moisture but the fresh will be best.
  • Tomato – I prefer cherry tomatoes of all different colors for a colorful topping but whatever your favorite is, will work great.
Pesto Caprese Focaccia

Pesto Caprese Focaccia

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Prep: 18 hours
Bake: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 625 g Bread flour 5 cups
  • cup Water
  • 6 g Instant yeast 2 tsp
  • 1 tbsp Morton Kosher salt
  • 2 tsp Sugar
  • 6 tbsp Olive oil divided
  • ½ cup Pesto
  • 1 pint Cherry tomatoes halved
  • 8 oz Fresh mozzarella Pearls, or chopped into small chunks
  • Balsamic glaze/reduction

Instructions

  • Combine flour, sugar, salt, water and yeast into a bowl and mix until combined. When adding ingredients, make sure to not place the salt directly on top of the yeast. The dough will be very loose and shaggy.
  • Add 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil into the dough bowl, mixing in completely so dough is saturated with oil. Drizzle another tbsp of oil over the top. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours. The dough is ready when it has doubled in size.
  • Prepare your pan. For thicker bread, use a 9×13" cake or sheet pan, for thinner use up to a 13×18" pan. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil into the pan and rub across the bottom, sides and corners.
  • Transfer your dough into the sheet pan and dump any oil from the dough bowl into the pan as well. Cover the pan with cling wrap that has been greased and leave in a warm place to double in size. This could take 2-4 hours depending on the air temperature and how cold your fridge is. The dough is ready when has grown in size, reaching the edges of the pan if not already completely filling.
  • Preheat oven to 425°F
  • Drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil over your dough. Oil your hands and use your fingers to both gently push dough to the edges of the pan where it has not reached.
  • If your pesto is particularly thick, add 1 tbsp of olive oil to to the pesto to make it easier to spread. Place spoonfuls of pesto all over the dough. Use your fingers to spread the pesto all over the top of the dough, then dimpling the dough: pressing your fingers down into it creating divots.
  • Take your tomato halves and mozzarella chunks/pieces and place them all over the dough, gently pressing them into the dough slightly.
  • Bake the focaccia on the middle rack of your oven for about 25 minutes. It will be hard to tell how browned the bread is, but mozzarella and tomatoes will be roasted with golden or brown spots on them.
  • Let the bread cool for at least 15 minutes, but preferably at least 30 min. Once cooled, slice and drizzle with balsamic reduction.

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