If someone asks me what inspires me to cook, I would say it depends on the feedback of a man and a boy – my hubby and son. When the bigger one goes for seconds, sometimes thirds, I know he truly likes what I’ve cooked. He rarely talks with his mouth full. I know its considered good manners, but I have serious issues following such rules.
Some of you might remember that I recently baked my first focaccia with savory toppings. We were munching on it that evening. As I said, we rarely have time for a conversation while eating something good. But my mind was already working overtime.
Between mouthfuls, I remarked rather casually, “I bet this would taste good with strawberries instead of tomatoes”.
“Yes, with some sugar dusted on top, maybe for breakfast”.
I never expected to get an instant response and I literally sat there with my jaw open. That too coming from a man who barely cooks or rarely has an opinion on what I cook. I was happy for another reason. This was a sure sign that he reads my blog. (I’ve had my doubts, though he has always sworn that he reads every word.) I am telling you, he’d never know otherwise what dusting sugar means!
How could I not oblige him then?!!
Juicy red strawberries are so versatile. Simply pop them in your mouth, dip them in chocolate, bake cakes, make sweet and spicy salsa, caramelize them, use them in milkshakes,ice cream, sauces or jams or use them to top just about any dessert – the options are endless. I just realized that strawberries are probably my most favorite ingredient!
The last time I made focaccia, the dough was slightly tough at first and I had to use a lot of elbow grease to knead it. This time around, instead of mixing all the flour in the recipe at the same time, I mixed the dough with 2 1/2 cups of flour and incorporated another quarter cup while kneading. It turned out perfect, better than last time. I topped this focaccia with macerated sweet strawberries and cinnamon sugar. Yes, you read that right! Need I say more now?!!
Oh and one more thing, I shaped the dough in to a 9-inch square bread this time, ending up with beautiful thick slices. Read on for the recipe (phew, at last!).
You will need:
- Active Dry Yeast – 1 tbsp
- Sugar – 1 tsp
- Very warm water – 1 cup (around 110 deg.F)
- All purpose flour – 2 3/4 cups
- Salt – 1 tsp
- Oil – 3 tbsp, divided
For the topping,
- Strawberries – 3/4 lb or 10-12 large ones
- Sugar – 3 tbsp, divided
- Cinnamon powder – 1 tsp
- Powdered sugar – for dusting
- Combine the yeast, 1 tsp of sugar and warm water in a bowl to proof the yeast. It should take 5-10 minutes for the solution to turn frothy.
- Sift 2 1/2 cups of flour and salt in a mixing bowl (I’ve found that a non-stick pan is perfect for mixing sticky dough). Add the yeast solution and 2 tbsp of oil to this and combine to form a dough.
- Turn the dough out on to a clean and floured surface (with the rest of the 1/4 cup of flour). Knead well to incorporate the flour and till the dough is soft and elastic, around 5-8 minutes.
- Oil a bowl thoroughly, place the dough ball in it and turn around to completely coat with the oil (to prevent the dough from drying out). Cover with a clean, damp cloth and allow to rise for 30 minutes in a warm place.
- Let’s prep the topping while the dough rises. Wash, hull and slice the strawberries into halves or quarters. Place the strawberries in a bowl and add 2 tbsp of sugar. Toss to combine and allow the berries to soften and release their juices. In another small bowl, combine the rest of the sugar with cinnamon powder.
- Pre-heat the oven to 450 deg.F and line a 9-inch baking pan with foil.
- After 30 minutes, the dough should have risen well. Punch it down and shape the dough in the baking pan. Make dimples or indentations all over with your fingertips. Brush 1 tbsp of oil all over. Cover and rest for a further 20 minutes.
- Now nestle the macerated berries in the dough gently. The dough will be very pillowy (is that even a word?!) and you can easily create little pockets for the berries in it. Drizzle some of the juices all over, especially at the edges. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar evenly on top. Again, don’t forget the edges.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes or till the bread is golden brown. Remove from the pan and cool slightly on a wire rack.
- Dust with powdered sugar and serve warm. If you have any leftover macerated strawberries, you can serve it along with the bread.
The juices from the strawberries ooze on to the sides, creating a perfectly sweetened crust on the sides of the focaccia!
- Bake this in the evening and serve it for breakfast the next morning. I stored it in the refrigerator overnight as I was not exactly sure how long it can be kept out on the counter.
- Serve with a few dollops of ricotta cheese or goat cheese on top. If you are planning to consume the focaccia bread immediately, you can add the cheese during the last 5 minutes of baking.
- Replace strawberries with other berries or your favorite fruit. I think grapes, peaches, nectarines or cherries would be amazing.
- Try topping with fresh herbs like mint or basil too.
How’s that for a lovely sweet breakfast/brunch bread? Do try it and let me know what you think. I would love to hear your variations to this, if any.
I am also linking this up at these awesome blogs.
- A Blossoming Life
- Skip To My Lou
- The Dedicated House
- Between Naps on the Porch
- Home Stories A To Z
- My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
- A Stroll Thru Life
- Cedar Hill Ranch
- Coastal Charm
- Elizabeth & Co
- House On The Way
- Savvy Southern Style
- The NY Melrose Family
- The Turquoise Home
- Living Well Spending Less
- Design Dining and Diapers
- The Shabby Nest
- French Country Cottage
- My Romantic Home
- The Charm of Home
- Thirty Handmade Days
- Crafts a la Mode
- Love of Family and Home
- DIY Show Off
- Nifty Thrifty Things
- By Stephanie Lynn