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Focaccia for Breakfast

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

The serendipitous story of this recipe begins at the popular Cetrella Bistro and Cafe in Half Moon Bay, California. I always look forward to the restaurant’s chewy, full-flavored focaccia, and was hoping I could include the recipe in this book. My request was graciously granted by the very talented Lewis Rossman, who at the time was executive chef. A conversation with my friend Christine Law, former pastry chef of Postrio restaurant in San Francisco and Spago in Palo Alto (and ice cream guru par excellence) gave me the secret (and her recipe) to transforming the world-class savory bread into a sweet sensation: plump fresh blackberries and a gorgeous brown sugar-olive oil streusel. Note to night owls: Bake the focaccia in the late afternoon or evening, and it will still have that fresh-from-the-oven taste for breakfast, brunch, or even a tailgate the next day.

For the best results, it is important to respect the proportion of flour to other ingredients in the recipe. Weigh the flour for accuracy, since the volume measure of 1 pound (455 grams) bread flour varies with the brand used.

Cooking Methodbaking

CostModerate

Total Timeunder 4 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionBuffet, Family Get-together

Dietary Considerationegg-free, peanut free, soy free, vegetarian

Equipmentelectric mixer, food processor

Mealbreakfast, brunch

Taste and Texturechewy, fruity, nutty, sweet

Type of Dishfocaccia

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups (10½ fl ounces/315 ml) warm water (98 to 100 degrees F)
  • 5 tablespoons (2½ fl ounces/75 ml) olive oil, preferably a fruity one
  • 1 pound (455 grams) unbleached bread flour (3 cups plus 3 to 8 tablespoons, depending on flour brand)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ cup (3 ounces/85 grams) whole natural almonds
  • ¼ cup (2 fl ounces/60 ml) fruity olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (3 ounces/85 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup (1¼ ounces/50 grams) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup firmly packed (1¾ ounces/50 grams) dark brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
  • 2½ ounces (5 tablespoons/70 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2 cups (10 ounces/280 grams) blackberries (about 48), picked over for stems

Instructions

  1. To make the dough:

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of the sugar over the warm water and set aside to proof for about 10 minutes. Add the olive oil, flour, the remaining sugar, and the salt, in that order. Attach the dough hook to the mixer and beat on low speed for about 12 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice. When the dough is smooth yet slightly sticky, elastic, and comes away from the sides of the bowl in a cohesive ball, stop the mixer, detach the hook and bowl, and loosely cover the bowl with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap.

  3. Set the dough aside at room temperature to rise until almost doubled in bulk, 30 to 35 minutes. Press the dough gently with a fingertip. If the indentation remains, the dough is ready for the next step.

  4. Before baking:

  5. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. To make the Olive Oil Streusel: While the dough is rising, spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven until hot and fragrant but not yet starting to color, about 8 minutes. Carefully transfer the hot almonds to a small cup and pour the olive oil over them. (The cup should be small and tall enough so the nuts are fully submerged.) Set aside to cool completely. Leave the oven on.

  6. Drain the nuts, reserving the olive oil, and place them in a food processor. Sprinkle the salt over them and pulse briefly to chop the nuts to about half of their original size. Add the flour, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, and butter, in that order, and pulse briefly until the mixture appears mealy with clumps the size of small peas. Drizzle in 1½ tablespoons of the almond-infused olive oil and pulse briefly. Transfer the streusel to a small bowl and refrigerate, uncovered, until ready to use.

  7. To form the focaccia:

  8. Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat a 15½ by 10½ by 1-inch pan (jelly-roll pan) with nonstick spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper, and brush the paper with 1 tablespoon of the reserved almond-infused olive oil.

  9. Gently deflate the dough and press it over the bottom of the prepared pan. It will be slightly elastic, even a bit slippery, due to the oil on the parchment paper. When the dough resists too much, just let it rest for 1 minute at a time, then resume coaxing it to cover the bottom of the pan. It won’t take long to achieve this. Cover the pan with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and set the dough aside in a warm place (about 70 degrees F) to rise until doubled in size, 60 to 70 minutes.

  10. When a floured finger gently pressed into the dough leaves an indentation, the dough is ready for topping. Brush 1 to 1½ more tablespoons of the almond-infused oil on top. Gently poke the blackberries in the dough, forming 6 rows and spacing the berries about 1 inch apart. Break up any large pieces of the streusel into pea-sized pieces and then sprinkle the streusel evenly over the dough.

  11. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap or a cloth towel and set aside to rise until the dough has almost doubled in bulk and a floured finger gently pressed into the dough leaves an indentation, 30 to 35 minutes more.

  12. Bake the focaccia, rotating the pan 180 degrees midway through baking, until the dough is lightly golden (especially around the edges of the pan), the streusel is golden brown, and the blackberries are bubbly, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for at least 30 minutes.

  13. Serve the focaccia warm or at room temperature. Cut into 3-inch squares (or any size desired) with a serrated knife. Slip a sturdy metal spatula under the pieces to remove them from the pan.

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