How to bake homemade focacccia bread with figs

Homemade Focaccia Bread with Figs and Goat Camembert

July 15, 2009 · 13 comments

I am prone to nostalgia. Routinely caught in inappropriate New York daydreams while stuck in mundane meetings. Lately though, thoughts of Italy have been the reason for loss of productive work hours. Maybe because my life is especially hectic as of late, and I crave the humble, unpretentious lifestyle Italians so gracefully embrace.

I find food to be a healing remedy for times past. Specifically, recreating a meal that reminds me of the faraway place. This time, it brings me to focaccia bread, the staple of life in Cinque Terre.

Almost one year ago, Alejandro and I arrived in Cinque Terre after spending the night sleeping in a tiny Italian rental car. We were on our honeymoon, clueless that the Assumption of Mary was one of the biggest Italian holidays. We learned quickly as every hotel was booked solid, and we were relegated for the night to the backseat of a Micra. We have no regrets – the next morning we arrived in Vernazza early enough to snag the best room in this picturesque fishing village.

vernazza cinque terra

Pesto, anchovies, sardines, foccacia – the flavors of Italy are fully saturated in Cinque Terre. While my focaccia is similar to what we remember, I used local flavors, making it distinctly Californian. Fresh figs, Sonoma County goat cheese, pine nuts and California olive oil. One bite replaces nostalgia with delight.

Ingredients:
Toppings:
8 green Figs, sliced
1/2 cup pine nuts
5 oz. Camembert-style goat cheese, cut into one inch cubes

Starter:
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
3/4 cup organic, all-purpose flour
Dough:
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 1/4 cups organic, all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sea salt

The Starter:
Sprinkle yeast in the warm water and whisk to combine. Let sit for 10 minutes, until creamy. Stir in flour, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes.

Dough:
Sprinkle yeast over warm water, whisk to combine, and let stand for 10 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to stir the yeast mixture and olive oil into the Starter. Whisk in one cup of flour. Stir in salt and the remainder of flour. Mix well. Knead on a floured surface for 10 minutes. Don’t skimp on kneading – if you don’t do it for the full ten minutes the bread won’t have the right texture. It should feel soft and velvety when you’re done kneading.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled glass bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise for 1 1/4 hours – it’ll double in size.

The dough should now be light and full of air bubbles. Flatten it on an oiled 11 x 17 baking pan. The dough may not make it to all the edges, so let it relax for 10 minutes. After this, stretch it again until it fills the pan. Cover with a towel and let rise for 1 hour.

Dimple the bread with your fingertips, and drizzle with olive oil and seat salt.

At least 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 425F. Place the focaccia in the oven, and spray the oven walls with water. Do this again in five minutes.

focaccia fog goat brie 2

In 15 minutes, take the bread out of the oven and lower the heat to 375F. Arrange the cheese, figs and pine nuts on top of the bread. Bake for another 13 minutes, or until top is slightly golden.

Where I Shopped:
Fresh Figs: Berkeley Farmers’ Market, Kaki Farms
Camembert Goat Cheese: Berkeley Farmers’ Market, Camellia from Redwood Hill Farm
Pine nuts and St. Pierre Olive Oil: Monterey Market, Berkeley

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Natalie July 15, 2009 at 11:13 pm

Allison,

Are you familiar with sciaciatta? It’s also a flatbread and it is topped with grapes, olive oil and rosemary (and sometimes walnuts). I’ve been looking for a good recipie for the dough. I think this one would work, but I believe the dough could be slightly sweeter. I would love to get a good recipie for this as I lost mine years ago and have never managed to perfect it again.
Thanks!

Reply

Erica July 16, 2009 at 5:17 am

That looks wonderful! I love to cook with figs.

Reply

Chelsea July 16, 2009 at 7:48 am

That photo of Cinque Terre brings back memories! But it has been 12 years since I was there. I really think it’s time to go back!!

And I adore figs! I’ve been getting them from some neighborhood trees. The absolute best I’ve ever had!!

Reply

Allison Lemons July 16, 2009 at 9:18 am

thanks everyone!
Natalie – I am familiar with sciaciatta, isn’t usually whole wheat? I’ve never made it, but I remember it being chewy and delicious. Let me know if you find a good recipe, I’d love to try it.

Reply

TasteStopping July 17, 2009 at 5:40 am

I’m not sure which is more tempting, the photos of your delicious bread, or the beautiful scene of the fishing village. No wonder you are daydreaming about it. Makes me want to book a ticket.

Anyway, I found you through TasteSpotting and am writing to say that if you have any photos that aren’t accepted there, I’d love to publish them. Visit my new site (below), it’s a lot of fun! I hope you will consider it.

Best,
Casey
Editor
http://www.tastestopping.wordpress.com

Reply

Jessica@FoodMayhem July 17, 2009 at 6:44 am

Sounds like such a dreamy place, a great place to draw inspiration from. I’ve never had fig on focaccia but I bet I’d love it to pieces. Well, I’d probably eat the whole thing.

Reply

kiss my spatula July 18, 2009 at 8:51 am

stunning! i love the addition of the figs and camembert – brilliant and sounds so tasty.

Reply

laurance July 21, 2009 at 3:11 am

That looks so wonderful.Thanks everyone.

Merry

Reply

kristen September 3, 2009 at 10:57 am

hi allison!!!

i love your blog – i always check it for new recipes, even though i never have the time to make anything. however, i will definitely try your fig and goat cheese recipe – two of my favorite things!

eric and i were in italy for our “pre-honeymoon” unfortunately, did not get a chance to visit Cinque Terre – will have to though because it looks amazing.

hope all is well; great work on your blog…Heidi and Dr.Kalter would be sooo proud!!

Kristen

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tom | tall clover farm September 3, 2009 at 3:03 pm

With such a suite of ingredients, I fear that in my world this tray would become a single serving size. And while it needs no improvement, I may just add a little chopped up bacon or prosciutto for good measure, and to ensure that I won’t have to buy new jeans based on weight loss.

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Arjay April 11, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Wow! Great thnkinig! JK

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