Focaccia bread topped with a salty, savory olive tapenade. This impressive bread comes together in a couple of hours, and is easily customizable.
If your fridge looks anything like mine, you probably have a couple of half-full jars of olives claiming residency on the shelves. Turning them into a batch of savory, salty olive tapenade is one of my favorite ways to put that prime fridge real estate back on the market. I almost always have some capers and a half a lemon hanging out, too. Garlic and olive oil are always in my kitchen. All it takes to make some of this addictive relish is a few pulses in the food processor.
A quick batch of tapenade tumbled atop this bubbly dough works out beautifully. This loaf of focaccia will make a wonderful addition to any lunch or dinner table; and it will also be tasty alongside a cheese tray or some charcuterie.
- Olive Varieties: Feel free to experiment with different types of olives for the tapenade. Just ensure they’re pitted for a smoother tapenade.
- Dough Consistency: The focaccia dough should be a bit sticky but still manageable. If it’s too wet, add a little more flour, but be careful not to overdo it as this can make the bread dry and dense.
- Rising Location: For optimal rising, place the dough in a warm, draft-free spot. If your kitchen is particularly cold, consider placing the dough inside an oven (turned off) with the light on.
- Olive Oil Quality: Using a high-quality extra virgin olive oil can elevate the flavor profile of both the tapenade and the bread itself.
- Storing: If you have leftovers, store the focaccia in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 2 days. For longer storage, consider freezing the bread and warming it in the oven before serving.
- Serving Suggestions: Focaccia pairs wonderfully with soups, salads, or as a side to pasta dishes. It’s also delicious when sliced horizontally and used for sandwiches.
- Herb Variations: If you’d like, you can add rosemary, thyme, or other favorite herbs to the dough or sprinkle on top before baking for added flavor.
- Salt Variation: For a more gourmet touch, consider sprinkling flaky sea salt or kosher salt on top of the focaccia just before baking.
- Topping Variations: Beyond the olive tapenade, focaccia is versatile and can be topped with a variety of ingredients. Consider using sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced onions, roasted garlic cloves, cherry tomatoes, or even feta cheese crumbles. Or go the sweeter route and top with strawberry slices and mascarpone cheese.
Step by Step Guide to Making Olive Tapenade Foccaccia
1. Prepare the Olive Tapenade:
- Rinse the olives and pat them dry.
- In a small food processor, combine olives, garlic, capers, basil, olive oil, lemon juice, and white pepper.
- Pulse the mixture until it achieves a coarse consistency, scraping down the sides as needed. Set aside.
2. Making the Focaccia Dough:
- In a large bowl, combine the yeast, water, and sugar. Let it sit until the yeast blooms and appears creamy.
- Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour and salt, mixing until the dough comes together.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times. If the dough is sticky, lightly flour your hands but avoid making the dough too stiff.
3. Prepare the Baking Sheet:
- Lightly sprinkle water onto a 15″x10″ rimmed baking sheet.
- Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Spread 2 tablespoons of olive oil evenly over the parchment paper.
4. Shape and Rise the Dough:
- Place the kneaded dough onto the prepared baking sheet.
- Gently stretch and shape the dough to fit the pan.
- Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until it slightly surpasses the edges of the pan, approximately 45-60 minutes.
5. Preheat the Oven:
- As the dough nears the end of its rising time, preheat the oven to 400° F.
6. Add Toppings and Bake:
- Evenly spread the prepared tapenade over the risen dough.
- Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil on top.
- Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake for about 25 minutes or until the focaccia turns golden and has crisp edges.
- After baking, carefully slide the focaccia (with the parchment paper) onto a wire rack.
- Allow it to cool slightly.
- Enjoy the focaccia while warm or at room temperature.
Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez is a Michiana-based food writer with a fondness for garlic, freshly baked bread, stinky cheese, dark beer, and Mexican food—who believes that immersing herself in different cultures one bite at a time is the best path to enlightenment.