Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Thyme-Scented Apple Focaccia
We went to a local, organic orchard this weekend to buy some Honey Crisp apples. They are my husband's favorite, and these are about as good as we've ever eaten! I was searching for a unique apple recipe amongst the hundreds I have when I came across this one: Thyme-Scented Apple Focaccia. Bingo! The perfect palette for my beautiful apples; a lean dough, covered with fresh apples, a little fresh thyme, and chopped hazelnuts. A generous sprinkling of sugar over the top brings just the right touch of sweetness, and a caramelized edge to the focaccia. I love the addition of the fresh thyme to the sweet apples; it's that perfect combination of savory and sweet that makes this pastry so special. It's a terrific dessert, with your favorite cheese alongside (and a little wine, perhaps?) I think it would make a very good breakfast or afternoon snack, with tea or coffee. After all, an apple a day...
Thyme-Scented Apple Focccia
(makes 2, approximately 8 by 10-inch focacce)
1/2 cup warm water
1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup bread flour
1 cup water, at room temperature
5 tablespoons canola , hazelnut, or walnut oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
3 cups bread flour
2 tart, local, organic apples (Honey Crisp preferred), unpeeled and each cut into 16 wedges.
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped roasted hazelnuts
3 tablespoons natural Demerara sugar (or granulated sugar)
In a small mixing bowl, make a sponge by stirring together the water, yeast, and flour. Cover and let stand for 2 to 3 hours at room temperature or until bubbly. To make the focaccia, transfer the sponge to a large mixing bowl; stir in the water, 4 tablespoons of the oil, salt, yeast, and flour. Mix until the dough comes together. Turn out onto a floured work surface. Knead for 10 to 15 minutes, or until very smooth and elastic. Place in a well-oiled bowl, turning to coat with oil, cover and let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. Divide the dough in half. Roll each piece into an oval, about 3/8-inch thick and about 8 by 10 inches. Place on a large (or two smaller) parchment-lined baking sheet(s). Brush the tops with the remaining tablespoon of oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; let rise for 30 to 40 minutes in a warm place. Position an empty baking pan on the bottom rack of a preheated 450°F oven. Meanwhile, press apple wedges evenly into each piece of dough. Sprinkle with thyme, hazelnuts, and sugar. Mist the tops with water and ladle 1/4 cup water into the hot baking pan to create a burst of steam. Bake focaccias 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on racks before serving.
(adapted from a recipe by Terra Breads via Anita Stewart in "The Flavors of Canada".)