It's finally spring and for South Louisiana that means strawberries are back in season! The plump bright red berries have taken over farmers markets and grocery stores, begging to be eaten fresh, baked into pies, and layered on top of cheesecake. Those traditional methods of using strawberries are great, but this spring I thought I'd do something a little more unconventional. I introduce strawberry, basil, and goat cheese focaccia. This fluffy bread has all of the great texture of traditional focaccia, with an added sweetness from the strawberries and tang from the goat cheese. Serve it with some balsamic vinegar for dipping and experience the flavors of Louisiana and Italy combining into one perfect mouthful. Enjoy!
This recipe is adapted from the folks over at Saveur Magazine.
- 2.5 cups all purpose flour
- 1 t kosher salt
- 1 T coarse sea salt (optional)
- 1 T honey
- 1 1/4 oz pkg yeast
- 1 cup warm water
- 1/4 cup plus 5 T olive oil, divided
- 1.5 cups strawberries, cut into thin slices
- 8 - 10 basil leaves, cut into thin strips
- 10 oz goat cheese
Okay I know this looks like a lot of steps but really I just broke it down a bit more than I probably had to, don't be intimidated.
- Whisk yeast and honey into the warm water and set aside. Let sit for 5 - 10 minutes, until it begins bubbling.
- While the yeast is proofing, whisk together the flour and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Set aside until the yeast mixture is ready.
- Once the yeast mixture is bubbling, whisk the 1/4 cup of olive oil into it.
- Add the yeast mix to the flour and, using the dough hook attachment, being mixing until well combined.
- Once the dough has come together turn the speed to medium high and knead for 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. It's still going to be pretty messy and sticky, don't freak out.
- Coat two medium bowls with 1/2 T olive oil each.
- Use another 1/2 T olive oil to coat your hands.
- Using your hands, separate the dough into two equal sized-balls and place each half into it's own greased bowl.
- Cover the bowls with a kitchen rag or plastic wrap and let sit for one hour, until doubled in size.
- Once doubled in size, grease a 9x9" square pan with 1/2 T olive oil.
- Press one dough ball into the pan.
- Place most of the chopped strawberries, goat cheese, and basil on top of this dough. Save just enough to top the next layer (the top layer) of dough with. For this step, the goat cheese can just be broken into small chunks and placed evenly across the dough, you won't really be able to spread it well so just try to evenly distribute the chunks.
- Press the other half of the dough on top of the first half, sandwiching the ingredients between the two dough halves.
- Spread the top dough out to make sure that all of the filling is covered.
- Use your fingers to make small indentations in the top of the focaccia.
- Let the focaccia sit in the pan for about 30 minutes until it has risen a little more.
- Preheat the oven to 450* F.
- Top the focaccia with remaining strawberries, basil, and goat cheese chunks.
- Drizzle remaining three tablespoons of olive oil on top and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of coarse sea salt.
- Bake for 15 - 20 minutes until slightly browned.
- Serve warm with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.