The flavors of this focaccia are enhanced by the use of herb oil to marinate the sliced plum tomatoes before layering them over the top of the focaccia. The fresh basil pesto is drizzled over the tomatoes after the focaccia comes out of the oven. The pesto serves two purposes: a delicious complement to the tomatoes and a beautiful color contrast to the orange and brown tones of the baked tomatoes and caramelized crust.
Available in May 2019 and published by Penguin Random House, Perfect Pan Pizza is an in-depth guide to pan pizza from baking authority Peter Reinhart, including achievable recipes for making Detroit, Sicilian, and Roman-style pan pizzas and focaccias in a home oven.
Any master dough, made at least one day ahead
1 cup herb oil, 8 roma tomatoes, 1 cup pesto
Five hours before baking the focaccia, pan the dough, lining the pan with baking parchment or a silicone baking pad, and then oiling the surface and inside walls with 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Dimple the dough (allowing 1 to 1 1/2 hours, and 3 to 4 dimplings at 20-minute intervals) for the dough to relax enough to cover the whole surface of the pan. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap.
Prepare the herb oil, adding an additional teaspoon of dried basil as a complement to the tomatoes. Slice the tomatoes into quarter-inch disks, discarding the stem, and place them in a bowl. Pour 1 cup of herb oil over the tomatoes and, with your hands, toss the tomatoes in the oil to coat.
When the dough has risen to the top of the pazn, lay the tomatoes, end to end, over the full surface of the dough. If there are tomato pieces left, lay them over any areas where dough is showing through. Save the remaining herb oil, along with any residual tomato juice.
Preheat the oven to 475 F. While the oven is heating, make the pesto.
Bake the focaccia on the middle shelf of the oven for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until the tomatoes are slightly charred and the visible focaccia dough is golden brown and springy to the touch. The under-crust of the focaccia should be caramelized to a golden brown.
Carefully remove the focaccia from the pan by first tracing around the perimeter, between the crust and pan wall, with a pounded pallet knife (icing spatula), a metal dough blade, a metal or Teflon burger spatula, or a butter knife with a rounded end.
Lift the focaccia, or slide it, on to a cutting board. If the parchment or baking pad is still under the dough, remove it carefully.
Use a tablespoon to drizzle the pesto over the surface in streaks, so that the tomatoes peak through. Cool for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.
Note: You can use the leftover herb oil and tomato juices as a dip or condiment, served in a bowl or drizzled over the top of the focaccia.