Michael's Fall Focaccia
This versatile focaccia (or "fo-squash-ia") is the perfect accompaniment to any fall or winter meal. Whether it's for sandwiches, snacking, or soup, this beautiful bread will be a great fit. This recipe and photos are by Michael Windlinger, a cottage baker in North Carolina. Follow him @windybakes.
- Whisk one ¼-oz. envelope active dry yeast (about 2¼ tsp.), 2 tsp. honey, and 2½ cups (585g) lukewarm water in a medium bowl and let sit 5 minutes (it should foam or at least get creamy; if it doesn’t your yeast is dead and you should start again—check the expiration date!)
- Add 5 cups (625 g) Janie's Mill High-Protein Bread Flour and 5 tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1 Tbsp. Morton kosher salt and mix with a rubber spatula until a shaggy dough forms and no dry streaks remain.
- Pour 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil into a big bowl that will fit in your refrigerator. This puppy is going to rise! Transfer dough to bowl and turn to coat in oil. Cover with a silicone lid or plastic wrap and chill until dough is doubled in size (it should look very bubbly and alive), at least 8 hours and up to 1 day. If you're in a rush, you can also let it rise at room temperature until doubled in size, 3–4 hours.
- Generously butter a 13x9" baking pan (for thicker focaccia that’s perfect for sandwiches), or an 18x13" rimmed baking sheet (for focaccia that's thinner, crispier, and great for snacking). The butter may seem superfluous, but it’ll ensure that your focaccia doesn’t stick.
- Pour 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil into center of pan.
- Keeping the dough in the bowl and using a fork in each hand, gather up edges of dough farthest from you and lift up and over into center of bowl. Give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat process. Do this 2 more times; you want to deflate dough while you form it into a rough ball.
- Transfer dough to prepared pan. Pour any oil left in bowl over and turn dough to coat it in oil.
- Let rise, uncovered, in a dry, warm spot (near a radiator or on top of the fridge or a preheating oven) until doubled in size, at least 1½ hours and up to 4 hours.
- While the dough is proofing, prepare the topping.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. While the oven is heating, peel and slice the butternut squash into 1/4 inch slices.
- Lay the butternut squash out on a baking sheet and drizzle generously with olive oil. Top with salt and pepper, and roast for 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- To see if the dough is ready, poke it with your finger. It should spring back slowly, leaving a small visible indentation. If it springs back quickly, the dough isn’t ready. (If at this point the dough is ready to bake but you aren’t, you can chill it up to 1 hour.)
- Lightly oil your hands. If using a rimmed baking sheet, gently stretch out dough to fill (you probably won't need to do this if using a baking pan).
- Dimple focaccia all over with your fingers, like you’re aggressively playing the piano, creating very deep depressions in the dough (reach your fingers all the way to the bottom of the pan).
- Drizzle with remaining 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil and top with roasted butternut squash. Bake focaccia until puffed and golden brown all over, 20–30 minutes.
- While the focaccia is baking, over medium heat, heat about 1/4 inch vegetable oil in a small saucepan. Once the oil is hot, fry the sage leaves in batches, being sure not to overcrowd the pan.
- Once the focaccia is done baking, let it sit in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove it from the pan and let it cool on a drying rack. Just before you serve, top with the fried sage. You may also drizzle with maple syrup or honey for a sweet and savory focaccia.
Posted on December 08 2021