Easy As Focaccia
Cranberry and Citrus Zest Focaccia
18oz (510g) Warm Water
.75oz (21g) Active Dry Yeast
1.5oz (42.5g) Olive or Avocado Oil plus more for drizzling
1lb 14oz (850g) AP or Bread Flour
.75oz (21g) Salt - Kosher or Pink Himalayan are my usual choices. Plus more for sprinkling
1 cup of frozen cranberries
Pink Himalayan or Kosher salt
Zest of two oranges
2 oiled 12x8 inch sheet pans (you may see them referred to as quarter sheet pans)
This is called the Straight Dough Method:
Put all ingredients (except for the “more for…”) in a bowl of a stand mixer with the hook attachment in this order:
Mix on low speed (1 or 2) for 5 minutes; scrape the sides of the bowl and the hook.
Mix on high speed (4) for 30-60 seconds. The dough should spring back when you poke it. If it doesn’t, mix a little longer until it does. You need to develop gluten so the bread holds its structure.
Scrape the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap.
Set in a warm place to rise for 1 hour.
Split the dough in half (by weight each half should be a little over 1 ½ pounds, but try weighing the whole thing first and then splitting it) and place each half into a separate oiled sheet pan.
Gently press and stretch the dough to fit the size and shape of the pans.
Cover with towels or plastic again and let rise for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 425F (convection if you have it as an option)
Remove the covers and drizzle about a Tbl of oil (olive or avocado, your choice) on the doughs and spread it evenly and gently with your hands.
Using your fingers, quickly poke dimples all over the top of the dough. I like to pretend I’m playing a dramatic piano piece here.
Sprinkle the toppings evenly over the two doughs, gently press them in, and place in the preheated oven.
Bake for about 12 minutes. Rotate the pans halfway through if you do not have your oven set to convection bake. The focaccia should be nice and toasty brown and the cranberries will have burst slightly. It should also spring back when you poke it. You can also check that the temperature inside has reached about 190F when you insert a thermometer (be sure the thermometer is placed in the middle of the loaf and not touching the extra hot pan).
The zest is easier to sprinkle onto the dough if you stir it up with the salt first. You get a more even distribution.
Mix up the toppings! It just happens to be yummy cranberry time, but some other favorites are with cherries, or cooked potato chunks in the dough with rosemary on top.
As far as cranberries go. Fresh can burn more quickly in the oven then frozen, but proceed with caution. If you want to use dried cranberries:
Try to find unsweetened. It’s difficult, but the cranberry’s natural tartness goes so well with the bread.
Soak them in some sort of liquid before you sprinkle them on the dough. They will come out hard as rocks otherwise. Bourbon, orange juice, apple cider, water, etc. Simmer them over low heat for 10-15 minutes if you’re short on time, or soak overnight. Pat dry.
You can definitely make one big focaccia if you prefer. It’s nice to eat one fresh and freeze another for later, however. Lasts about a month in the freezer in a freezer bag or wrapped twice in plastic and then in foil. Defrost covered at room temp or in the fridge overnight.
If you’re curious about the order of adding ingredients to the mixing bowl, it just helps the mixer get all the flour hydrated by the liquids. If you put flour in first, you may get pockets of flour in your dough.
You can totally mix this by hand if you don’t have a stand mixer. Takes a while longer, and it’ll be messy. You will build some sweet muscles though.
All good things in moderation.