Strawberry Focaccia with Maple Balsamic Onions
August 23 2020
When we think of summer fruits & veggies, often, what comes to mind is peaches, cherries, corn and tomatoes. I know that we can get strawberries year-round, but not like summer strawberries. They are ripe, sweet and bursting with flavor. If you grow them or have access to fresh-picked strawberries, you are even luckier!
When contemplating what to do with the huge amount of strawberries I just happened to buy, I decided let's mix up sweet and savory. This recipe does just that.
Start by mixing the yeast with some warm water and honey (the honey will activate the yeast). Give it 5-10 minutes, and you will see the yeast mixture begin to "bloom" (or in non-technical terms, get poofy, as in the middle pic above).
You'll then add your olive oil, flour and salt to the yeast mixture and knead it. I use my KitchenAid mixer for the kneading. It's a breeze and a no-fail approach to making breads or anything with yeast. Let the kneaded dough sit for about an hour and you get this gorgeous, shiny ball of dough.
The dough gets pressed into the pan, it also sits for a while so that it can "proof " (or get poofy). Then you add the strawberries and caramelized onions.
Let's talk about those onions: You want to slow-cook them so that they brown or caramelize nicely. If you cook them too fast, the sugars won't be able to release and you won't get the wonderful flavor that we're looking for. Once caramelized, you add a little maple syrup and balsamic vinegar. Heaven!
Add these on top of the strawberries, with some more olive oil and flaky salt, and bake. What you end up with is the lightest, most flavorful focaccia bread you can imagine!
Sprinkle some slivered basil to the top of the bread once it's baked. Serve it as an appetizer, along side a main course or as a snack late at night. It's delicious!
with Maple Balsamic Onions
Makes: 12 servings
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
2¼ tsp. (one ¼-oz. packet) active dry yeast
1 tsp. honey
3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 medium sweet onion, quartered and thinly sliced
2 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tsp maple syrup
1 cup strawberries, hulled and sliced lengthwise into 1/8-inch pieces
Flaky sea salt
8–10 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
In a medium bowl, add the yeast, 1 cup lukewarm water (100–110°F), and the honey; stir to combine. Set aside just until foam forms on the surface of the liquid, about 5 minutes, then add 1/4 cup oil, followed by the flour and salt. Using a fork, stir until a dough forms, then turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead until the dough is smooth and supple, about 10 minutes, then form into a ball. (Alternatively, pour oil in with yeast mixture and then put the liquid into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the flour and salt, and, using the dough hook, knead the dough on medium-low speed for 7-8 minutes).
Lightly grease a large bowl with 1 tablespoon oil, then add the dough, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to rise until the dough has just slightly more than doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Brush a 9-by-13-inch rimmed baking sheet with 2 tablespoons oil. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet, and using your fingers, spread the dough out to the edges. Using your fingers, press the dough all over to form dimples. Drizzle 2 tablespoons oil over the top, then cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside to rest until the dough puffs up slightly, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-low heat, add 1 tablespoon oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and lightly browned, 15–20 minutes. Add the vinegar and maple syrup; cook until the liquid has evaporated, 2–3 minutes more. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
Set a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 450°F. Distribute the strawberries across the top of the dough, pressing them down slightly, then scatter the onions evenly across the top. Drizzle the remaining 3 tablespoons oil over the top and sprinkle with flaky salt to taste. Bake until the focaccia is golden at the edges and browned on the bottom, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before using an offset spatula to slide the focaccia onto a cutting board. Top with the basil, then let cool completely. Cut into pieces and serve.
Recipe by Leah Koenig as published in Saveur Magazine