Pumpkin and cheese focaccia
Prep Time: 15 minutes + resting time
Cook Time: 16-18 minutes + time to cook pumpkin
Keywords: bake bread snack nut-free soy-free sugar-free vegetarian pumpkin flour cheese Italian
Ingredients (Serves 4-5)
- 115 ml water at 85 F / 30 C
- 2.4 g / 3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
- 65 g King Arthur Flour all-purpose flour (this is the flour I use to make bread)
- 50 g stone-ground whole-wheat flour (I use locally grown and milled Hollis wheat)
- 110 g King Arthur Flour all-purpose flour
- 4 1/2 ounces / 130 g roasted pumpkin or winter squash (see instructions below) at room temperature + 2 teaspoons / 10 ml additional water, if needed (see below)
- 1 tablespoon / 15 ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 g fine sea salt
- 1 ounce / 30 freshly grated hard cheese of choice (a hint of sharpness works nicely here)
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 2-3 leaves fresh sage, slivered
- Extra-virgin olive oil in a mister (to oil the bowl and the dough)
InstructionsHow to prepare the pumpkin / winter squash
Different types of pumpkin / winter squash have different water content. If the specimen you choose is quite watery, drain it before using it. On the other hand, if it is dense, you'll need to increase the amount of water (see later).
Preheat the oven to 375 F. If the pumpkin is hard, pre-process it as follows: pierce it with a blade in a few places, place it on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat, and bake it for 15 minutes, then let is cool slightly. This makes it easier to cut it in half.
Cut the pumpkin (pre-processed or raw) in half lengthwise and remove the seeds (a grapefruit spoon is my preferred tool for this task). Place halves on the silicone baking mat, cut side down. Put in the oven and bake until tender, easily pierced with a blade. Let cool, drain any water, then scrape the flesh off the skin, again using a grapefruit spoon, and place in a bowl or suitable container.
Let the pumpkin pulp cool completely and weigh the amount required by the recipe: avoid watery pulp by spooning it from the surface. If there is no liquid in the bottom of the container, it means the pumpkin or squash is more on the dry side, so add 1-2 teaspoons of water to the pulp. Mash well with a fork and set aside to use for the focaccia. Use leftovers to make this soup, these scones or this bread.How to prepare the dough
In a bowl, measure the water. Add the yeast and stir well, then add the first amount of flour (#3 in the list) and stir with a wooden spoon or a dough whisk. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes in a draft-free place.
In the meantime, weigh the other two amounts of flour (#4 and 5 in the list). Also, add olive oil, salt, cheese and the herb of choice to the mashed pumpkin and stir well.
Add the flours to the yeasted mixture and stir briefly, then add the pumpkin mixture and stir until a shaggy dough forms. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 10 minutes. In the meantime, oil well the bowl in which the dough will rise. A glass bowl makes it easy to manipulate the dough.
Transfer the dough to the prepared oiled bowl. This is a fairly sticky dough, hence I recommend you wet your hands before handling it. With wet hands, letter-fold the dough and then flip it to oil the surface. This is your time 0. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 45 minutes.
This very nice video on The SF Baking Institute website describes and shows stretching and folding: as Mac says in the video, the stretching part is of fundamental importance in gluten development. The video is not long, but if you don't have time to watch it in its entirety, you can start at 4':30" and watch Mac show how to stretch and fold.
A) Stretch and fold the focaccia dough in the bowl along both sides (length and width).
B) Cover and let rest for 45 minutes.
Repeat A and B two more times, at which point you will be at time 3 hours and your dough should be ready for shaping.How to shape the focaccia
Lightly oil a silicone baking mat or piece of parchment paper resting on a baking sheet. Flip the bowl onto the mat and let the dough drop. Cover it with another baking sheet or oiled plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.
Push the dough out gently with your fingertips to spread it into a roughly square shape, about 8 inches / 20 cm wide, of even thickness. Cover it as before and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Push the dough gently with your fingertips to spread it a little bit more, until it is about 9 inches / 23 cm wide, then mist the surface lightly with olive oil. Cover as before and let rise for 20-30 minutes while you prepare the oven.Prepare the oven
Place a baking stone or tile in the cold oven and preheat the oven to 425 F / 220 C.Bake the focaccia
Lightly mist the dough with olive oil one last time. Transfer the baking mat or parchment paper with the dough onto the hot stone or tile.
Bake for 15 minutes then check. The focaccia is ready when golden on the bottom and surface. Bake a few minutes longer, as needed.
Carefully slide the baking mat or parchment paper with the focaccia onto a baking sheet and then transfer the focaccia to a wire rack to cool slightly. Transfer to a wooden cutting board, slice and enjoy warm or at room temperature.