Since my last bread bake was such a success, I decided to try another. My mom and I have recently found a new appreciation for sun-dried tomatoes. I know they’re not always a favourite. To all those sun-dried-tomato haters out there, bear with me. I used to be one of you!
“What was wrong with hydrated tomatoes?” I used to think. They’re wrinkly. They’re chewy. They’ve lost all the integrity of a plump juicy tomato! And yet . . .
Under that unattractive pruney skin is a surprising kick of tangy saltiness. It has just the right amount of chewiness to make you really taste the flavour, yet not so chewy that you start wondering whether you’re just chomping on a strip of leather.
Once I started to embrace the sun-dried tomato and stopped comparing it to its un-dried brother, we just got along splendidly! We just bought our first jar, so I thought why not crack it open and see how it tastes?
Which brings us to today’s challenge: Sun-dried Tomato and Pesto Foccacia
There was just one problem. I didn’t have any pesto! Being in my cheffy mood, I decided I’d try my hand at making my own. I didn’t really feel like scrounging up pine nuts, so I decided to make the Fisher Price version and used toasted almonds instead. (I figured I was just going to be baking with it anyway. As long as I got the basil and olive oil, everything else could just play along.)
It turns out pesto is incredibly easy to make.
With my cooking skills all warmed up (pressing the food processor’s power button is only for the master chefs), I was ready to tackle that foccacia!
Another bread challenge down! All this baking is really starting to grow on me. It’s definitely a good way to kick back and relax after a long day at the office. At the very least, punching down the dough is always an effective stress reliever.
The result is definitely worth the five hours of hard work (and waiting). It has a great crunch to the crust, but the inside is soft and light. The pesto is swirled all through the dough, so every bite or so you get a slight crunch of an almond. Every bite however has that clean fresh basil taste.
I only wish I had pushed all the tomatoes back into the dough before popping them in the oven. The ones that stuck out on the top came out a little charred. At least it’s easy to pick them off and pretend it never happened!
My house smells like a bakery, and I have a fantastic loaf of fresh foccacia all set for tomorrow’s lunch. The only question now is who’s going to help me finish the other loaf?
Update: After having another look through my recipe, it turns out I was supposed to be making two separate foccacia loaves. One was supposed to be pesto flavoured and the other sun-dried tomato. Whoops. Fortunately the flavours go together wonderfully! I like to think it adds another dimension to my first-time foccacia. I meant to do that!