Fast Focaccia with Strawberries recipe from Recipes and Dreams from an Italian Life by Tessa Kiros
Author Tessa Kiros:
This is truly lovely. The kind of thing you like just being at the same table with. The strawberries must be incredible—sweet and bursting with flavor. If yours are not, you may need more sugar. You can serve this as a snack or for breakfast, it’s something between a sweet and a bread.
Cooks&Books&Recipes Featured Cook Katie:
I kept going back and forth between wanting to try the traditional recipes and wanting to try something new. I finally decided on a recipe that is somewhere in the middle: Fast Focaccia with Strawberries. I have made focaccia before, but always a savory version that was topped with rosemary or stuffed with cheese and meat. A sweet focaccia sounded delicious, and it looked like a unique way to use the fresh, sweet strawberries that are starting to show up in grocery stores here. I followed the recipe very closely and decided to use active dry yeast instead of fresh yeast (Kiros gives directions for using either) because that is what I’m used to working with. This recipe seemed faster and easier than other focaccia recipes I’ve made, maybe because it required only one period of rising. I found that I needed to bake the bread a little longer than suggested in the recipe, 35 minutes instead of 25, but this may have been due to the fact that I live at a very high altitude.
In any case, it turned out just like the picture in the book and tasted just like summer! The bread was tender and moist, with the springy texture of focaccia, and the strawberries made little pools of fruity sweetness. It was almost like a danish but without being excessively sugary and with a firmer texture. This would be a perfect bread to serve at a summer brunch or even with soup for a light dinner. I can’t wait to try the Asparagus & Ham Lasagna . . .
Fast Focaccia with Strawberries
Featured Recipe From: Recipes and Dreams from an Italian Life
¾ ounce fresh yeast or 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1¼ cups warm water
5 heaping tablespoons sugar
2⅔ cups bread flour
Pinch of salt
2½ tablespoons olive oil
1 pound strawberries
Confectioners’ sugar, to serve
Crumble or place the yeast into a large bowl and stir in the water with 1 heaping tablespoon of the sugar. Add the flour and salt and knead lightly, dipping your hands in a little flour if necessary, to give a soft, stickier than usual dough.
Flick a little water over a good-sized baking sheet 13 by 12 inches. Line with a piece of waxed paper, ironing the paper down with your hands so it sticks. Drizzle the olive oil on and spread this over the paper (with your hands if you like, for your skin to benefit from the great properties of olive oil). Now put the dough on the sheet and begin to spread it to completely cover the pan. It probably won’t cooperate immediately, so stretch it to perhaps halfway, then leave it for 5 minutes or so and go back to it after its rest. Stretch and press it with your palms to edge it out to the sides of the pan. Cover with a food umbrella (or a similar structure that will allow for the dough's expansion). Leave it in a warm draft-free place to rise, about 1 to 1½ hours.
Meanwhile, rinse the strawberries and remove their green tops. Leave small ones whole, halve medium-size ones, and cut large ones into thirds. Put them in a bowl and scatter with 2½ heaping tablespoons of sugar. Stir them gently and leave at room temperature, covered.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. When the dough has puffed up nicely, gently stir the strawberries again, being careful not to break or mash them. Quickly and gently, so the dough doesn’t deflate, place them all over the dough, keeping most of them upright so they look good once baked. Drizzle the juices here and there as you go. Scatter the remaining 1½ heaping tablespoons of sugar evenly over the top, right to the sides. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the focaccia is golden and crisp on the edges and the strawberries have a lovely juicy look about them, almost scorched on a few edges. Make sure the middle part is cooked, too, turning the sheet around if necessary for the last 5 minutes. Don’t overcook or the strawberries will collapse into a jam. Remove from the oven. Let cool. Shake confectioners' sugar over the top. Cut off pieces with kitchen scissors. Eat.
© 2013 Tessa Kiros
Reprinted with permission from Recipes and Dreams from an Italian Life by Tessa Kiros (Andrews McMeel Publishing)