Focaccia, a flat oven-baked Italian yeast bread is traditionally a savory bread with herbs and salt on top. This decadent version is sweet, studded with tart dried cherries and semi-sweet chocolate chips and sprinkled with coarse sugar.
Shulie, Food Wanderings, tweeted me and asked me if I’d like to join the Breaking Bread Society. Shulie, Marnely of Cooking with Books, and Lora started this fun new bread baking group to inspire us to bake more bread. Lora, Cake Duchess, is this month’s hostess and it was Lora’s irresistible Raisin Focaccia post that inspired me to create a Cherry Chocolate Focaccia.
In addition to making it a sweet focaccia with cherries and chocolate chips, I changed the recipe to use instant yeast. Using instant yeast allows you to mix the yeast with the flour, use warmer water and helps speed up the process. You can even skip the first rise if you’re in a hurry.
It’s best to knead in the cherries and chocolate chips by hand. When kneading a moist dough like this focaccia dough, use wet fingers and a wet scrapper instead of adding additional flour.
The recipe recommends letting the bread cool before cutting it, but the focaccia baked up so golden brown and smelled so amazing, I couldn’t wait. The melty chocolate chips and tart cherries in the hot bread were a real treat. I couldn’t resist eating several slices hot out of the oven.
Later my husband slathered a slice or two with Nutella, which he highly recommended. So my breakfast the next day was Cherry Chocolate Focaccia with Nutella. Amazing!
Visit Lora, Cake Duchess, for the original focaccia recipe and more information about Breaking Bread Society.
3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) rapid-rise instant dry yeast
1 1/3 cups warm water (about 130 degrees)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 tbsp. turbinado sugar (coarse sugar)
In large mixing bowl, mix together 2 1/2 cups flour, yeast and salt on low speed in your mixer.
In a small bowl, whisk together water and 3 tablespoons olive oil.
With the mixer on low, pour in the liquids. Continue mixing until a shaggy dough begins to form. Clean off paddle and switch to dough hook. Mix in the remaining flour a little at a time, adding more or less flour as needed, to make a dough that is elastic and a little moist, about 8 minutes.
Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead in cherries and chocolate chips. (I used a wet scraper to help me knead them in.)
Form the dough into a ball and place into an oiled bowl, turn to coat the ball with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature until doubled in size (about 1-1 1/2 hours). (If you’re in a hurry you can skip this first rise when using instant yeast.)
Place the dough on a parchment lined 101/2 x 151/2-inch jelly roll pan. Pat and press the dough gently until the dough fills the pan completely. If the dough resists, let it rest for a few minutes before continuing. Cover the dough with a piece of plastic wrap and let it rise again until doubled in size (about 40-60 minutes).
Preheat to 425º.
When the dough has doubled in size, remove the plastic wrap. Dimple the surface of the risen focaccia using your fingertips (if it’s too sticky, dip your fingers in olive oil before dimpling the bread).
Brush on 3 tablespoons olive oil to the surface of the dough. Sprinkle on the turbinado sugar.
Bake the focaccia for about 15 - 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Lift the focaccia from the pan with the parchment paper edges. Cool on a rack before serving.
*Adapted from How to Bake by Nick Malgieri Copyright (c) Nick Malgieri 1995, All Rights Reserved