Although it is still very early in September, fall is in the air here in Umbria. The temperatures are getting quite cool each evening, the hunters are once again out looking for their catch, and we are seeing some of my favorite fall produce in the markets, including pumpkin, cauliflower, apples, and figs. I especially love figs and we enjoy them often during the too short season they are available to us each year in the fall. For exercise, I have begun to walk up to Collazzone, the small town that sits up on the hill above our property which is about eight miles there and back, and along my route there are a couple of fig trees that hang over the road I that I pick from. I noticed recently that the figs have finally begun to ripen, so I now carry a bag on my walk to collect some figs to take home with me. Since our fig season has begun this year, I have made fig muffins, a fig cake, enjoyed a lot of fresh figs for breakfast, and have already made this tasty focaccia a few times over the past weeks.
I usually make focaccia at least once a week, and we either enjoy it plain to use in making sandwiches, or I top it with whatever produce is in season. During the summer I love using ripe tomatoes or zucchini picked from our garden, and in the fall I often top my focaccia with onions or figs. Recently I decided to combine onions along with figs, and then added some Gorgonzola cheese. This is truly a wonderful flavor combination that is both sweet and savory and highly addictive. On separate occasions I tried using both Gorgonzola Picante and Gorgonzola Dolce, and preferred the stronger picante variety although both were tasty. If you love blue cheese as much as I do, I’d advise using the stronger flavored variety. This focaccia is great enjoyed with a nice glass of wine before dinner, or as a snack anytime of the day. I also think chopped walnuts or pistachios would be a very tasty addition on this flatbread if you wanted to add some texture.
Focaccia is an easy bread for anyone who is new to bread baking, and you can see my tutorial How To Make Focaccia Step by Step for the basics.
Collazzone – The Small Town On The Hill Above Our Property
Deborah Mele 2014
For The Focaccia Dough:
- 5 Cups All-purpose Unbleached Flour
- 2 Teaspoons Instant Yeast
- 2 – 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Plus 2 Additional Tablespoons To Oil Bowl)
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 3/4 Cups Warm Water
For The Onions:
- 1 Large Onion, Peeled & Sliced
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 6 to 8 (Depending on Size)Fresh Figs, Ends Trimmed & Sliced
- 4 to 5 Ounces Gorgonzola Cheese (See Notes Above)
- Coarse Sea Salt
- Cracked Black Pepper
- Measure and assemble your flour, oil, salt, yeast, and water.
- Add everything but the water into a large bowl and stir.
- Add half the water and stir.
- Continue to add water until the dough begins to come together into a shaggy ball.
- Dump the dough mixture onto a lightly floured surface and begin to knead with the heels of your hand.
- Knead for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and pliant.
- Add a little oil (2 tablespoons) to the bottom of a large bowl and place your ball of dough inside.
- Roll the ball of dough around in the oil ensuring the sides of the bowl and ball of dough are both lightly oiled.
- Cover your bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise. (I cover mine with a kitchen towel on top of the plastic wrap and sit it on a large sunny windowsill.)
- Let the dough rise until it is doubled in size, about an hour or an hour and a half depending on ambient temperature.
- While the dough is rising, prepare the onions.
- For the onions, in a heavy frying pan, heat the olive oil and add the onions.
- Cook over medium low heat, stirring often, until the onions are very soft and beginning to brown, about 12 to 14 minutes.
- Cover, and set aside.
- Lightly oil a 13 x 9 inch baking sheet with sides.
- Dump your risen dough into the pan punching it down to deflate it.
- Use your fingers to push and press the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for another 20 minutes or until the dough dimples when pushed with your fingertip.
- Use the tips of your fingers to dimple the entire top of the focaccia.
- Drizzle olive oil over the top turning the pan carefully to allow the oil to roll into the indentations.
- Scatter the onions evenly across the top of the focaccia, then arrange the sliced figs.
- Break up the Gorgonzola cheese into small pieces and scatter it across the dough.
- Sprinkle coarse sea salt and black pepper over the top of your focaccia.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown, then cool to room temperature before slicing (if you can!).