Focaccia has been a favourite bread in our family and I have been making it ever since my kids were small. The crunchy crust and the spongy texture of the bread with lots and lots of olive oil drizzled on it is just so enjoyable, no matter what toppings you add according to your mood. I love the aroma that emanates in the air when it is being baked and the smell and taste of pure olive oil. For a great tasting focaccia, it is important to use the best quality, 100% pure extra virgin olive oil.
Lot of olive oils available in the market are adulterated, so it is best to ascertain their quality before making the purchase. I always use Kirkland’s extra virgin olive oil available at Costco. This is not because I trust the quality of Costco’s products but because “Costco recently took better measures to ensure that only 100 percent authentic Italian extra virgin oil is sold at the warehouse. Costco is fully aware of this illegal situation and has worked diligently to ensure its Kirkland Signature EVOO is authentic and traceable.” You can read the full article here
I had leftover roasted sweet potato lying in the fridge and I wanted to make good use of it. The thought of making chaat or eating it with sprinkled cinnamon, brown sugar/honey was not appealing. The other day I made flat bread (rotis) out of it and enjoyed eating them all. Some different and unique was what I wanted to try out and I could think of nothing but my dear old focaccia but this time with roasted sweet potato and fresh rosemary. I imagined the taste in my mind – the sweet focaccia bread with the rosemary flavour combined with fresh vegetable toppings – will definitely be a success! So I tweaked my recipe for regular focaccia a bit by adding egg and increasing the flour quantity and lo and behold, it worked out very well.
4- 41/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbs quick rising yeast
3/4 cup lukewarm water
1/2 tsp salt
1 sweet potato (medium size)
4 tbs olive oil
1 each green and red peppers
6 white button mushrooms
1/4 cup sliced red onions –
A few green/black olives – optional
1 tomato diced
1 small strand of fresh rosemary herb (can be substituted with basil/oregano)
Mozzarella/cheddar cheese – optional
1. Preheat oven to 400 º F and roast the sweet potato with the skin for 30 – 45 minutes till it is tender. Prick it with a knife before placing it in the oven to prevent it from bursting while roasting. Peel them when they cool down, mash well and set them aside.
2. Warm a cup of water in the microwave for 35-40 seconds. It should be lukewarm to touch. Add 1 tbs yeast and 1/2 tbs sugar, mix well and leave it to rise for 5 mins.
3. Meanwhile process 3 cups of sifted flour in the food processor with salt till it mixes well. Now add the egg, mashed sweet potatoes and pulse again, then add the yeast solution. At this stage you may find the dough a bit sticky, so add the remaining flour little by little while pulsing until well incorporated and a smooth ball of dough is formed.
4. Now add 1 tbs olive oil to it and pulse more till the dough starts spinning. This means the dough consistency is reached. The dough starts spinning when it is elastic. We need an elastic kind of dough to get a spongy texture in the focaccia. At this stage remove the dough from the processor, roll it in the shape of a ball, put it in a greased container, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for up to 1 hr.
5. When the dough doubles in size, place it on a large 12 inch greased pizza pan, punch it down then start working on it in a clockwise circular motion by pressing out the dough evenly to the circumference of the pizza pan to a complete 12 inch round.
6. Pat the crust with your hands to make sure it is spread evenly all around. Make indentations on the crust with your fingers like little dimples.
7. Drizzle olive oil generously on it so that it fills in all the dimples. Let it rest for 10 minutes.
8. Sprinkle dried rosemary or oregano and basil, then spread all the cut vegetables on top. Press them a bit and leave to rest for another 15 minutes to let it puff up. Then bake in the (second position from the bottom) in the oven for 15-20 mins till it is crisp on the bottom and lightly golden on top. You may add cheese towards the end. Just wait for the cheese to melt and remove. Cut them into wedges or squares and enjoy.