Airy and tender with a crisp exterior, homemade focaccia makes a perfect base for simple homemade pizza. Plus, it is a great beginner bread for inexperienced bakers as the dough is fairly simple to prepare and work with. (Not to mention, with enough olive oil and salt, even a not-great focaccia is still pretty tasty.) In this recipe, the bread is already infused with a ton of herbaceous flavor from the herb oil, so a simple tomato sauce is all that’s needed for your pizza. Add on rich and melty fresh mozzarella, slightly spicy and salty sopressata, a few fresh basil leaves, and a drizzle of spicy honey… and you have perhaps one of the greatest pizzas you’ll ever experience on your hands. While you could certainly opt for regular if you’d prefer, we highly recommend giving the warming-sweet kick a spicy honey delivers to the pie a chance. We particularly love Brooklyn-based Mike’s Hot Honey, which you can order on Amazon. If you’re tight on time, you can substitute a purchased herb and garlic oil in place of making your own. Also feel free to swap the sopressata for pepperoni or leave the meat off altogether for a vegetarian pie.
1 3/4 cups warm water (about 110°F)
1 (1/4 oz.) envelope active dry yeast
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
4 1/2 cups (about 19 1/8 oz.) bread flour
3 tsp. kosher salt, divided
Herb Oil (recipe follows)
1 cup boxed crushed tomatoes
4 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, chopped
2 oz. thinly sliced sopressata
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
1 Tbsp. hot honey (such as Mike’s Hot Honey)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped herbs (such as basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and parsley)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
How to Make It
Prepare the Herb Oil: Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-low until warm, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours. Cover and store in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks.
Prepare the Focaccia Pizza: Combine water, yeast, and 1/4 cup of the oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour and 2 teaspoons of the salt; mix until combined. Increase speed to medium, and mix until a smooth, sticky dough forms, about 6 minutes.
Using a lightly greased spatula, transfer dough to a large lightly greased bowl. Cover and let stand at room temperature 1 1/2 hours, stretching and turning dough every 30 minutes.
Line a baking sheet (18- x 13-inch) with parchment paper, and brush with remaining 1/4 cup olive oil. Transfer dough to prepared baking sheet, and gently shape into a 10- x 12-inch rectangle. Spoon 1/4 cup of the Herb Oil over dough; gently dock dough using fingertips. Cover dough with plastic wrap, and chill overnight.
Preheat oven to 500°F. Remove baking sheet with focaccia dough from refrigerator; drizzle with remaining 1/4 cup Herb Oil and dock dough. Cover dough loosely with plastic, and let stand at room temperature 2 hours. Stir together tomatoes and remaining 1 teaspoon salt; set aside.
Place baking sheet with focaccia in preheated oven; reduce temperature to 450°F. Bake until golden brown, about 18 minutes. Top focaccia with tomato mixture, mozzarella, and sopressata. Return to oven, and bake until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with basil leaves, and drizzle with honey.
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