Sunday, December 18, 2016

Holiday Focaccia with Roasted Chesnuts, Orange Zest, Rosemary and Pink Sea Salt

As we head into the holidays, it is natural to look back to the year that was, to think of Christmases past, to look ahead to the new year and, of course, to indulge in all of our holiday favourites.  One of my favourite ways to indulge and to bring back the smells and tastes of my childhood Christmases is by adding a holiday version of my homemade focaccia to the holiday table.

This focaccia recipe is very simple and can be made with a variety of toppings. I decided to use fresh roasted chestnuts, orange zest, rosemary and pink sea salt to elevate this recipe for Christmas. If you are looking to add some special touches to your meal, this is a great recipe that can feed a large group.

Ingredients for the dough
by weight

650g all-purpose unbleached flour
300g Italian OO flour
500g warm water
1x 7g packet of yeast
16 g  coarse white sea salt
zest of one large orange
1 tbsp vegetable oil- used to grease a sheet pan

Ingredients for the topping 

1 cup roasted, peeled and chopped chestnuts- score an X on the chestnuts and roast for 1 hour (this makes them easier to peel once roasted)
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary- picked from stem
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil plus additional for spreading out the dough
1 tbsp orange juice
generous sprinkle of pink sea salt

Mixer Method

1. In a mixing bowl combine flour, OO flour, salt, yeast, orange zest, and warm water.
2. Using a dough hook attachment set on low speed, gently combine all the ingredients until the dough comes together.
3. Increase the speed one notch and continue to kneed the dough until it is smooth. This will take approximately 6-8 minutes.
4. Once the dough is smooth, it needs to rise.  I tuck a SLIGHTLY damp cloth around the dough in the bowl and place in a warm spot until it is doubled in size. I turn my oven on to 425 degrees and leave the covered dough sitting on the stove to help it rise. It takes approximately 1 hour. 
5. Spread the vegetable oil evenly around the sheet pan making sure to grease the entire pan and its sides. Set aside until needed.
6. When the dough is ready, gently pick it up from the bowl and push out the air with your hands.
7. Place the dough on the sheet pan and GENTLY spread it out on  the sheet pan. I usually coat my hands in olive oil as I spread out the dough to make it easier to manipulate. 
8. Once the dough is spread evenly on the entire pan, drizzle and brush about 1 tbsp of olive oil over the dough.
9. Make dimple marks on the dough, using your finger tips making sure not to puncture any holes through the bottom. Cover again with the SLIGHTLY damp cloth and let rise a second time for approximately 40 minutes.
10.  Once dough is puffed up,  gently press in the rosemary and chestnuts making sure they are still visible and not poking through the bottom. Add a generous sprinkle of pink sea salt to the top.
11. Bake the Focaccia on the lowest rack of your oven set at 425 degrees for approximately 10 minutes or until the bottom of the bread is golden brown. DO NOT leave the bread during this stage and watch it carefully to ensure it does not burn on the bottom.
12. Place the Focaccia on the middle rack to complete the baking once the bottom is nice a golden. Bake another 10-12 minutes until the top is a beautiful golden color.
13. In a small bowl whisk together 2 tbsp of the Extra Virgin Olive Oil and the orange juice. Once the bread is out of the oven lightly brush this fragrant liquid across the Focaccia. It will add a wonderful shine and flavor and give it that soft texture to your fresh bread.
14. Slice up and enjoy on its own or perhaps dipped into hummus, balsamic vinegar and olive oil or your favorite tapenade.

Happy Holidays and Buon Appetito!