A fluffy focaccia which is full of flavour and perfect as a picnic loaf. It's super easy to make vegan, just substitute the parmesan in the pesto recipe for 5-7 tablespoons of nutritional yeast (depending on how cheesy you like the flavour). Alternatively swing the other way and glam the loaf up by tearing over some mozzarella once its fresh out the oven and let it melt and ooze.
450g strong white bread flour
50g semolina, plus extra to dust
20g fresh yeast (or 7g fast-action dried yeast)
1tsp caster sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
250-275ml lukewarm water
200g cherry tomatoes, on the vine
Sea salt flakes
Chopped fresh rosemary
For the pesto
200g Basil or any strong leafy veg like kale or cavolo nero
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 fresh chilli, finely sliced
4-5 table spoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 tablespoon of water
Combine the flour and semolina in a large mixing bowl. In another bowl mix the yeast with the sugar. Add the salt, olive oil and 250ml warm water to the yeast and sugar and mix well.
Tip the yeast mixture into the flour and stir to bring the dough together, adding an extra 2-3 tbsp water if it’s dry. Knead for 10 minutes until the dough is soft but not sticky and springs back to the touch.
Cover a large bowl with clingfilm and grease it slightly with a little olive oil. Then shape the dough into a ball in the bowl, cover the top with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
To make the pesto put the basil or kale into a bowl or food processor and then add the oil, water, salt, pepper, lemon juice, smashed garlic and sliced chilli (for those who want more heat keep the seeds from the chilli and add). Finely grate the parmesan on top. Using a hand held blender or food processor, blend into a paste and set aside. It should resemble the consistency of normal pesto, if too thick add a splash of olive oil and water.
Oil a baking sheet and dust with semolina. Don’t knock back the dough; carefully pour it onto the baking sheet and shape into a rough rectangle or oval about 2cm thick. Poke indentations all over the dough with your fingertips, then arrange the tomatoes on top. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt flakes and rosemary. Leave to rise in a warm place for 10-15 minutes. Heat the oven to 220°C.
Bake the focaccia for 20-25 minutes until golden brown; it should sound hollow when tapped on the base. Drizzle with more olive oil, then leave to cool on a wire rack before slicing.