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".)  



Brshully said...

We can attest to this delicous treat here at Shully's! Thank you, Donna!

The Devil's Food Advocate said...

Thank you for your kind comment, Beth. I'm glad you enjoyed it!