Olive, Tomato and Basil Focaccia

Makes 2 Focaccias

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (about 90°F)
1 tablespoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons Pinetop/Gilbert olive oil
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt

1/3 cup chopped Kalamata olives
1 cup chopped tomatoes
coarse salt
coarse ground black pepper
sprigs of basil leaves


Whisk 1/2 cup water and the yeast together in the bowl of a mixer. Set aside for 5 minutes until yeast dissolves and turns creamy.
Pour 3/4 cup warm water into a large measuring cup, add olive oil, and whisk to blend; set aside.
Whisk flour and salt together in a large bowl and set aside. Pour the water-oil mixture over the yeast and whisk to blend.
Add half the flour, and stir with a rubber spatula to mix. Attach dough hook, add remaining flour, and mix on low for 3 minutes or until the dough starts to come together. Increase mixer to medium-high and continue to mix for 10 minutes, scraping down hook and sides of the bowl as needed, until extremely elastic dough cleans sides of the bowl. Transfer dough to a work surface and form into a ball.
Place in an oiled bowl, turn it to cover with oil, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Allow dough to rise until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Fold dough over on itself to deflate and turn it out onto a work surface. Using a metal dough scraper or a knife, cut dough into 2 equal pieces.
Position the oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 450°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment and dust with cornmeal; set baking sheets aside.

Press down gently on each piece of dough, causing bubbles to appear on the sides, then slit the bubbles with a single-edge razor to release the gases. Gently pull and stretch each piece of dough into a 10-inch square. Let the dough relax, covered, for 10 minutes.

Transfer focaccias onto the baking sheets. Brush focaccias with olive oil, sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper and top with chopped olives and tomatoes. Put them into heated oven. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are golden with a heavy speckling of small surface bubbles, spraying the oven with water three times during the first 8 minutes of baking.

Once you remove the focaccias from the oven, brush them with a little additional olive oil, top with basil leaves, and transfer them to a rack to cool before serving.