Focaccia pizza bread is the easiest pizza you’ll ever make. With no kneading, an incredibly airy base and flexible toppings, this is a fab option for game day, entertaining or for kid’s lunchboxes.
Similar to Detroit-style pizza – which has a deep, airy base too – and thick pizza slices you find in Rome or Sicily, this is such a lovely recipe to make for parties. It’s a really easy way to feed a crowd. This one is loaded with crispy pepperoni, olives and a gorgeously crispy cheesy crust to make it a little more special.
Even though this is a very easy recipe, it was surprisingly tricky to perfect the ‘bread being cooked all the way through without burning the toppings’ problem. The secret? Give the focaccia base a head start in the oven without the toppings, then load on the toppings to finish baking. This means the focaccia pizza dough is cooked all the way through, and the topping is gooey, saucy and cheesy, rather than dry.
The recipe initially follows the same process as my absolute FAVOURITE no-knead chilli cheese focaccia and it really couldn’t be easier. Just mix the dough, then leave it to rise. Then you can get as creative as you like with your toppings. Follow what I’m using below, or raid your kitchen and load it up with whatever you have to hand.
I’m going for a typical pepperoni topping, with a few jazzy additions to elevate it, but you really can get creative here.
The base. You’ll need white bread flour (ideally bread flour is best because it gives the base more structure, but you can use regular plain flour if you can’t find it). I like to use instant yeast because you can mix it directly in with your dry ingredients, but if you use active yeast, you need to activate it in the lukewarm water first (sprinkle it in and let it sit for about 5 minutes – it should start to go foamy on top). Salt, water and good-quality olive oil are the only other ingredients you need for the base.
The toppings. You’ll need a good pizza sauce (I love using Mutti), but you could also use marinara or mix a tin of crushed tomatoes with a little salt and olive oil. I like to use a mix of strong cheddar and mozzarella for maximum flavour and stretchiness (to get the crispy cheesy crust, I actually recommend using pre-grated cheese as it holds its shape better). I’m using quick-pickled jalapenos for extra spice, but you could leave those out if you like. Olives (or marinated olives) and garlic (or confit garlic) are also delicious here, and a drizzle of sweet chilli jam finishes everything off beautifully.
How to make it
Mix your focaccia dough base, then give it a couple of ‘stretches and folds’ to help the gluten develop structure. Drizzle with olive oil, cover, then leave it to rise until doubled in size and super bubbly.
Transfer the dough to a greased, high-sided baking tray, drizzled with loads of olive oil. Gently stretch the dough into a rectangle, then leave it to rise again until super puffy and nearly doubled in size.
Drizzle more olive oil over your super puffy base, then dimple the dough with your fingers (a bit like playing the piano!) Try to avoid dimpling the crust of the dough as this will help it bake more evenly and your pizza toppings will stay put.
Bake for about 12 minutes, until lightly golden, then load on your toppings. If you want the crispy cheesy crust, pile the pre-grated mozzarella all around the sides of your dish.
Bake for another 12 – 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the pepperoni is crispy. Remove from the oven, then scatter over the jalapenos, drizzle with sweet chilli jam and finish with the fresh basil.
Use a spatula or fish slice to carefully remove the pizza bread from your dish, then slice and serve.
Got a question?
Can I make the pizza bread ahead of time?
Yes! There are a few ways you can do this. You can mix the dough, and then refrigerate it for up to 3 days before baking (this will help the flavour develop too). Either mix the dough, do your stretch and folds then cover the bowl and pop it in the fridge to rise and then continue with the recipe, or let it rise at room temperature, then transfer it to your prepared pan, cover and pop into the fridge to rise. Just make sure you bring it back to room temperature before baking.
You can also par-bake the focaccia base up to 24 hours ahead of time – just let it cool, then cover with aluminium foil and leave it at room temperature until you’re ready to top and bake.
What other toppings could I use?
You can get as creative as you like. Think of your favourite pizza and go from there. I love a spicy Hawaiian topping, a loaded veggie topping (think mushrooms, bell peppers, red onion, olives, sundried tomatoes and artichokes), meat lovers style with sausage, ‘nduja, chorizo and ham, spinach, sausage and ricotta, a classic Margherita or pesto, zucchini, ricotta and basil.
How long will the bread last?
It will keep well for about 4 days – it’s best kept in the fridge. Serve it at room temperature, or heat slices in the microwave for 30 seconds.
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Focaccia pizza bread is the easiest pizza you’ll ever make. With no kneading, an incredibly airy base and flexible toppings, this is a fab option for game day, entertaining or for kid’s lunchboxes. This one is loaded with crispy pepperoni, olives and a gorgeously crispy cheesy crust to make it a little more special.
You’ll need an (ideally) non-stick, deep-sided pan for this recipe. I use this 35cm/14″ x 24cm/9/5″ pan, so you’ll want something of a similar size, or a regular sheet pan.
Mix the focaccia dough. Add 600g white bread flour, 2 teaspoons of instant yeast and 1 tablespoon of salt to a large mixing bowl. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to mix the ingredients, then pour in 535g of lukewarm water and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix again, until a sloppy dough forms and you can see no streaks of flour.
‘Stretch and fold’ the dough. This step helps the dough develop strength without having to knead it. Wet your hand, then with your hand in a ‘C’ shape, scoop your hand down the side of the bowl and pick up the dough, stretching it up towards you. Then, press the dough back down onto itself. Give the bowl a quarter turn, then repeat this, three times. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel, then let it rest for a couple of minutes. After this time, repeat the stretch and fold process again.
Leave the dough to rise. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave it in a warm place to rise, until doubled in size, super jiggly and bubbly. PRO TIP: Take a photo of your dough as you leave it to rise, so you can easily check in to see how it’s going. The time it takes your dough to rise will depend on the heat and humidity of your kitchen, so watch the dough, rather than the clock. It can take as long as 2 hours, or as short as 40 minutes.
Transfer the dough to your pan. Once your dough is looking lovely and bubbly, grease your pan with butter, then drizzle it with another 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Transfer the risen dough to the pan, turning it over to coat it in the oil. Gently stretch it into a rough rectangle, then leave it to rise again, until roughly doubled in size and is very wobbly.
Prepare your pizza toppings. While the dough is rising, heat your oven to 250C/480F fan and prepare all your toppings. Mix your sliced jalapenos with 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
Par-bake the focaccia. When the dough is looking lovely and bubbly and has expanded to fill your pan, it’s ready to bake. You can do the ‘poke test’ to double check it’s ready if you’re not sure – gently press into the dough with an oiled finger. If the dough bounces back right away, it needs more time. If it slowly bounces back, it’s ready to go. If it doesn’t bounce back at all, it may be over-proofed (focaccia is forgiving though, so don’t worry if this happens, it will still be fine). Drizzle another 2 tablespoons of olive oil on top of the dough, then use your fingers to dimple the top of the dough (a bit like playing the piano), leaving the outside crust of the dough alone (this is going to help it stay even on top, so your pizza toppings will stay in place). Transfer to the oven and bake for 12 minutes until golden.
Top the pizza. Remove the focaccia from the oven. Spread your pizza sauce all over the top of the dough, then scatter over the crushed garlic. Top with your grated mozzarella and cheddar, piling it up around the edge of the pan to create a crispy cheese crust. Finish with the pepperoni slices and olives, then place back into the oven for another 15 minutes, until the cheesy is oozy and melted, and the pepperoni is crispy. Remove from the oven.
Garnish and serve. Scatter over the pickled jalapenos, then drizzle with sweet chilli jam and finish with the basil leaves. Use a fish slice to loosen the crispy cheese crust from the sides of the pan, then remove and place on a wire rack, then slice and serve.
STORAGE INSTRUCTIONS: The pizza bread will keep well for 3 to 4 days – it’s fine for a few hours at room temperature but then store it in the fridge. It’s best served at room temperature or heated (just pop slices in the microwave for 30 seconds).
MAKE AHEAD: You can make and bake the focaccia base up to 24 hours ahead of time if you like, then top and bake when you’re ready to serve. To do this, bake it for the first 12 minutes, then let it cool and cover it with aluminium foil until you’re ready to top. You can also make the dough itself 2 or even 3 days in advance (and this will actually help the dough to develop more flavour). Just pop the dough in the fridge, covered, at any time during the rising process. You can mix the dough then cover it, and pop it in the fridge for up to 3 days, then continue with the recipe or let it rise at room temperature, then transfer to the pan, cover it and pop it (covered) into the fridge for up to 3 days. Just let the dough come back to room temperature before you bake it.
INGREDIENT NOTES: I like using instant yeast because you can add it straight into your dough mixture, but if you only have active yeast, you’ll need to activate it first. Sprinkle it on top of your lukewarm water, give it a little mix, then let it sit for 5 minutes. It should start looking cloudy and foamy on top. Then you can go ahead and add it when you add the water. Normally I’m against pre-grated cheese because of the anti-caking agents, but it’s actually fine here and you’ll get a better crispy cheese crust using it.
SUBSTITUTIONS: You can play around with your pizza toppings here, based on what you like. Some ideas to get you started: go Hawaiian with ham and pineapple (or try my spicy Hawaiian topping), pile it up with bell peppers, mushrooms, red onion, sundried tomatoes, olives and artichokes for a loaded veggie pizza, go summery with this peach, blue cheese and asparagus topping, or keep things simple with a margherita.