Sunday, November 9, 2014

Blackberry Focaccia

It seems like I can never get out of the grocery store without blackberries.  While I do love to eat them as a snack, they make for a super item to have for breakfast or dessert. Since I had gone a little overboard in the quantity, I wanted to put them to use in a recipe.  Finding that special recipe that sparks my interest sometimes takes longer than the whole process of creating and posting.  After several hours of research, I was happy to come across this particular recipe.

This particular recipe makes me think of muffin tops.  We all know that muffin tops are the best part of the muffin.  There are times when that is all you want and the rest of the muffin seems to be too much sweet bread to devour.  If so, then it is time to consider converting the savory focaccia into something sweet.  Less bread, more topping---count me in.

This bread is still made with the original choice of olive oil but it is interesting in how this ingredient is incorporated into the topping.  The almond brown sugar streusel and the tart, juicy berries make for a perfect balance of flavor on top of the focaccia bread. Thicker than a pop tart but thinner than coffeecake, one piece will make you happy you stopped midway between the two.

Blackberry Focaccia
adapted from Baking For All Occasions

1 lb bread flour (approx 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 cups)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 1/3 cups warm water (approx 90-100 degrees)
5 tbs olive oil

Ingredients/ Streusel
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp gnd cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs flour
5 tbs cold butter, cut up
1/2 cup whole almonds
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups blackberries

To make the bread, start by pouring warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Then sprinkle on the yeast and a pinch of sugar from the measured teaspoon.  Let rest for 10 minutes.  Pour in the olive oil first and then add the flour on top.  Sprinkle in the salt and remaining sugar.

Using a dough hook, beat the mixture on low speed for 12 minutes or more. Beat until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl and balls up around the dough hook.  The dough should be smooth and elastic, but still retain a slight stickiness.  Take hook out of dough and remove bowl from the stand.  Cover lightly with a towel or plastic wrap.  Let set in a warm place until doubled in size.  This should take about 30-35 minutes.

While this is rising, complete the process for infusing the olive oil.  The initial step is to preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Then pour the almonds on a baking sheet and place in oven.  Let them toast for about 8 minutes in the oven.  Remove the pan and pour nuts into a small ramekin or bowl.  Pour 1/4 cup of the olive oil over the almonds, making sure all are submerged.  Set aside to cool. Turn off the oven. Once the nut mixture cools, strain out olive oil and reserve nuts in a smaller bowl.

After the dough has completed the first rising session, you will need to prepare a baking sheet.  The baking sheet size should be 15 1/2x 10 1/2 x 1 inch, like a jelly roll pan.  Grease the interior of the pan and then line the bottom with parchment paper.  Brush the surface of the parchment paper with some of the reserved almond infused oil.  Punch down dough and then stretch to fit evenly in the bottom of pan.  You may have to stop at a few intervals to let the dough rest for a minute if it seems to resist the stretching. However, it should not take long to get the dough stretched evenly, covering the bottom of the pan.  Cover lightly and place in a warm place for the 2nd rising.  For the 2nd rising , it should take about 60-70 minutes to double its original size.  The end result is dough that does not spring back when a light indention is made.

During second rise, pull out a food processor for preparing the streusel.  Fill the bowl with the reserved almonds and salt.  Pulse about 4 times, chopping the nuts in two.  Add the flour to the nuts.  Then sprinkle in sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Drop the cubes of butter on top.  Pulse the mixture repeatedly until it has a coarse texture and forms small pebble-like clumps. Pour in 1 1/2 tsp of almond infused oil and pulse 10 times. Add mixture to a smaller bowl and refrigerate until 2nd rising is completed.

Uncover dough after 2nd rising and brush with some of the reserved almond/olive oil.  Press blackberries into dough at 1 inch intervals.  Lastly, sprinkle the streusel evenly over the surface.  Cover again and place in a warm location and let rise its final and 3rd time until double.  This should take about 30-35 minutes.  While dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Once the 30-35 minutes rise time has passed, place another indentation in dough with your finger.  As before, it is ready if the dough does not spring back once your finger is removed.  Place in oven and let bake until edges are golden and blackberries are bubbly, about 40-45 minutes.  Be sure and rotate pan at the half way point of baking.  Let pan cool on rack about 30 minute before cutting into 3 inch squares.  These can be served warm or at room temperature.

Tips and Notes:
1. It is important to have the correct size pan and making sure the dough is evenly stretched over the bottom of the pan. Otherwise it will be crisper in some areas and fluffier in others.

2. How much spread and bubbliness you have with the blackberries depends on if you use them at room temperature or right out of the refrigerator.  As you can see by the picture, mine were used right out of the refrigerator.

3. The original recipe states that weighing the flour makes a difference from the cup measurements, so use your scale if you have one. Also, it makes note that ingredients should be added in order as stated.

4. Be patient on the beating of dough at low speed, it may take sometime to get to the right consistency, but running your mixer on high will make for very tough bread.
                                 **LAST YEAR:Peppermint Patty Cake**