Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sun-dried tomato recipe for Joy

 photo: Joy Peters Kurtz

My family lives in the land of true sun: Los Angeles. At least that's how I think of LA now that I live up here in Seattle. In LA they can plant their tomatoes in early April, and get all the sun and heat units necessary to grow big, beautiful, beefy tomatoes. Yes, I am quite jealous.
My step-mother, Joy, is a tremendous vegetable gardener. Each year she produces WAY more tomatoes than she and all her friends, family, and co-workers can handle. She dries tons of them, and then has a year-round supply of home-grown sun-dried tomatoes. 

photo: Joy Peters Kurtz. This is a photo of my dad building
trellises for their massive tomato plants of 2009

Many moons ago Joy asked me to develop a bread recipe that would incorporate her sun-dried tomatoes. I've finally gotten around to it, and I think that what I came up with is pretty darn good.

Sun-dried tomato and herb focaccia

 Approximate ingredient measurements:
1.5 teaspoons instant yeast (1 packet)
3.5 cups all purpose four
2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus a little more for oiling the bowl
1 plus teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 tablespoon+ dried or fresh rosemary
1/2 cup re-hydrated sun dried tomatoes, or use the kind packed in oil, diced

To rehydrate the sun-dried tomatoes: 
set the dried tomatoes into a bowl of very hot, salted water until they are soft and pliable (about 10 to 20 minutes). If you don't plan to use the tomatoes right away, simply coat them with a little olive oil and store in the refrigerator for one to two weeks.

To make the focaccia:
In a large bowl, the bowl of a stand mixer, or the bowl of a food processor, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and honey. Set aside to let the yeast "bloom" for about 20 minutes. In 20 minutes the mixture should be frothy and smell like a bakery or brewery (it should smell yeasty). If you do not see froth, which is produced by the respiring yeast, your yeast has been sitting in your pantry too long... go to the store and buy a new supply. Store what you don't use in the refrigerator, where it will last longer than in your pantry. 
At this point, add one cup of flour and mix until combined. Now add the salt. Do not add the salt before this, because it can retard the development of the yeast, and you really need the flour to buffer the yeast from the salt. Then, with your mixer on low, and fitted with a dough hook, slowly add the rest of the flour. This dough should be very wet.... just barely dry enough to handle. If you notice it drying out too much before you use all the flour, simply add less flour... this is where the "art" of bread making comes into play. Kneed the dough for about 10 minutes (about speed 4 on a KitchenAid mixer). In the end, the dough should be smooth and elastic. Kneeding the dough is what helps to develop the gluten (wheat protein) into long strechy strands. Well-developed gluten will yield a finished product that is chewy and fully of those prized air pockets.
Remove the dough from the mixing bowl, coat with olive oil, place in a bowl that is large enough for the dough to double in size (I just put it back in the KitchenAid mixing bowl). Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap, so it doesn't dry out, place in a warm spot in the kitchen, and let it rise for 1 to 2 hours, or until it has at doubled in size... the timing here is not critical... just make sure you give it at least 1 hour. 
When the dough has finished rising, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, let it preheat along with the oven. Now mix in your herbs and tomatoes, and continue to kneed dough, while incorporating the herbs, for about 1 to 2 minutes. You can do the second kneed by hand, or in the mixer, it's up to you. 

After all the goodies are incorporated put the dough on a lightly floured counter top, and attempt to flatten in out into a rectangular pizza dough shape. The reason I say attempt, is because your dough should be very elastic... this is a good thing. What you need to do, is shape it, let is pull back a bit, let it rest there for a minute or so, and then shape it again... continue doing this until you are pleased with your dough, and it is no more than 1/2 inch thick. At this point, transfer your dough to the preheated pizza stone, or a baking sheet. Being careful not to burn yourself, press your fingers into the top of the dough to create dimples. Drizzle the top of the dough with olive oil, and then sprinkle with a touch of coarse salt, and more rosmary. 
Bake until the focaccia bottom is brown and crisp, about 25 minutes. Let bread cool for 5 minutes, and enjoy!!!


  1. thanks kate! this is a dream come true. i've been wanting you to teach me how to make bread, and now i have my own foccacia recipe. you KNOW i'm going to share this this summer - when the tomatoes are CRAZY. love you, joy

  2. Mmm, tasty!

    Since you are using homegrown tomatoes, would you like to enter this post in our Grow Your Own roundup this month? Full Details at

  3. I've got to print this recipe out. Thank you :) Last year we harvested probably 200 pounds of tomatoes. I dried many of them and we have been feasting all year. But I haven't yet tried tomato bread. Sounds yummy. I made a DELICIOUS fondue with the dried tomatoes last month -- I will have to post that one. I've also made a killer cheese ball with them (think I posted that one maybe in ?Sept.) Anyway, thanks for the great idea.