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How to Bake Focaccia: Recipe for Onion, Olive & Cheese Focaccia

A few weeks ago I received a copy of Baking Basics and Beyond by Pat Sinclair for a review.

As you may know, I'm more of a cook than a baker. Cooking allows for more wiggle room  and more creativity when it comes to following recipes.

Although I think of myself as quite a creative person, another part of my personality is very methodical: I like numbers, formulas, and directions.  And that's what baking is: you follow directions and formulas to come up with, hopefully, delicious cakes, breads, cookies, tarts, etc.

Back to the book...It's divided into twelve chapters and covers biscuits, scones, muffins, brownies, cookies, cheesecakes, pies, tarts, and much more. The majority of the recipes have ten ingredients or less, the instructions are clear and succinct, and each recipe is followed by a baker's note and a secret to success, which share a few helpful hints.

On an aestetic note, the pages are glossy, featuring minimalistic photo styling that really lets the food shine!

As I paged through the book, one recipe really stood out: Onion, Fig, and Asiago Focaccia. Although I've baked bread before and made pizza dough from scratch, I've never made focaccia. This, I decided, will be the time to change that.

Alas, my grocery store did not have dry figs. Also, the recipe called for rosemary, which I really don't like. I ended up using pitted Italian-style oil cured olives instead of figs, and fresh thyme instead of rosemary to make Onion, Olive & Cheese Focaccia.

Onion, Olive & Cheese Focaccia
Recipe is based on and reprinted with permission from Baking Basics and Beyond, Second Edition, by Pat Sinclair, Agate Surrey, December 2011

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup very warm water (120-130F)
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 cup sliced onion {I used red onion}
1 cup grated Asiago cheese
1/2 cup pitted Italian-style oil cured olives
5-10 sprigs of thyme

1. Combine flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Add water and two tablespoons olive oil and mix until a sticky batter is formed. {My dough was pretty sticky, so I panicked, but decided to just let it be. It absolutely worked out in the end.}

2. Cover the bowl and let batter rise in a warm place for thirty minutes. Dough will have risen but may not be doubled. Punch down, forcing out any large air bubbles. Cover loosely and allow dough to rise fifteen minutes.

3. While dough is rising, heat remaining oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and saute till tender. Let the onions cool down before adding them on top of focaccia.

4. Lightly spray a 12-inch pizza pan with nonstick cooking spray. {I did not have a pizza pan and used 15x10" cookie sheet.} Press dough into the pan so it sticks to pan sides. Using a handle of a wooden spoon or your knuckles, press dimples into the dough.

5. Top the dough with sauteed onions, cheese, olives and thyme sprigs. Cover loosely and allow to rise thirty minutes.

6. Heat oven to 425F with rack in the lower third. Bake focaccia for 20-25 minutes or until its edges are brown and the cheese has melted. {The book says to cool focaccia to room temperature before slicing and eating it, but I say DIG IN!}

My condo smelled beyond amazing while the focaccia was baking. I can honestly say I'm really proud of myself for successfully baking my first ever focaccia. The great thing about this recipe is that you can add whichever toppings you want: use different cheeses, herbs, roasted tomatoes, cured meats, etc. In fact, I don't see why you can't use this as a base for a Sicilian pizza.

I'm looking forward to trying more recipes from Baking Basics and Beyond very soon.

What do YOU like to add to your focaccia?


MJ said...

Your grocery store didn't have dried figs?! What?! I always have dried figs me next time :) I've been wanting to try focaccia for a while, but yeast products do intimidate me. I'll have to give it another shot since yours turned out so gorgeously! I love that you found a bread product that leaves room for your creativity.

Cecilia said...

Gorgeous! And the salty note from olives is perfect with the onions. I bet it was delicious!

DeliciousDish said...

It's gorgeous! That focaccia would definitely call out to me too. I think I would try it with the figs.

Ben said...

It looks like a great book and the focaccia delicious! I had some great focaccia here in Mexico City, but I want to make it myself. Thanks for sharing!

Sarah said...

This looks delicious! I love olives, so I'll have to try this!