It’s getting cool enough to turn on the oven again. Even if you aren’t a baker, you can make a simple flatbread. If the process of kneading and shaping a loaf of bread and waiting for it to rise doesn’t work for your schedule, a no-knead, overnight focaccia might be the perfect compromise.
With limited time, you can have fresh, fragrant bread coming out of your very own oven. You can use it for sandwiches, eat it slathered with butter, or make this pesto and cherry tomato topped focaccia.
The trick that makes this bread so easy is the overnight rise. Instead of kneading the dough to stimulate the gluten, you can simply sit back while it happens in the refrigerator. Wheat flour, when mixed with water, creates the fibrous strands of gluten that are necessary to give the bread structure.
We used to think that the best way to get the gluten going was to knead the dough, stretching and strengthening the strands. But if you have patience, it turns out that the gluten will happen all on its own, with just a night in the refrigerator.
For this version of focaccia, use standard “whole-wheat flour,” which is higher in protein than whole-wheat pastry flour. My preference is for the white variety of whole-wheat flour, which is paler in color and might seem less “healthy-looking” to those dining at your table. This focaccia is especially good if you can get some freshly milled whole-wheat flour from a local miller such as Baker’s Field Flour & Bread.
If you want to keep it simple, simply bake the focaccia and when it’s cool enough to handle, serve it sliced in squares alongside a soup or salad. Let it cool, and you can split it in two sheets for making sandwiches or panini. It can become pizza pretty easily, too, with a smear of red sauce and your favorite toppings.
In this recipe, you’ll slather the focaccia with a hearty kale pesto and cover it with the sweet cherry tomatoes that are still so good right now. If you want to top it with shredded Parmesan or your favorite plant-based cheese, it will be delicious.
Robin Asbell is a cooking instructor and author of “Big Vegan” and “Plant-Based Meats.” Find her at robinasbell.com.