Not only is this sweet Italian-style bread pretty to look at, it’s also super delicious to eat. To keep things easy, you can make the dough the day before then let it finish rising in the morning right before popping it into the oven. Note that the dough can easily be made in a stand mixer if you have one. You can also use your favourite sourdough pizza dough recipe to make this bread; just be sure to add 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of maple syrup to that recipe.
- 3/4 cup (185 mL) warm water
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) white sugar
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) dry yeast (1/2 packet)
- 2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil + extra for the bowl
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) sea salt
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh or frozen berries (I used a mix of raspberries and blueberries)
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon maple sugar (or white sugar)
- In a medium sized bowl, combine warm water and sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over top and swirl the bowl gently to combine. Let the yeast activate for about 6 – 8 minutes, until foamy.
- Add flour, 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil, 2 tablespoons (30 mL) maple syrup and salt to the yeast mixture. Stir until the dough comes together in a ball. If using stand mixer, run on low speed for about 3 - 4 minutes, until the dough pulls away from the bowl without sticking, adding a bit more flour 1 teaspoon (5 mL) at a time as needed.
- If working by hand, transfer mixture to a lightly floured work surface and knead by hand for 4 – 5 minutes, adding a bit more flour 1 teaspoon (5 mL) at a time if the dough is sticking to the counter. Once the dough is smooth and elastic, shape it into a ball.
- Drizzle approximately 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of olive oil in a clean bowl and transfer the kneaded dough to that bowl, swirling dough around with your hand so it is coated with oil all over. Cover the bowl with a clean towel or plastic wrap and let rise on the counter for 30 minutes. At this point, if you are making ahead you can put the covered bowl into the refrigerator for up to 12 hours.
- In the morning, remove dough from fridge and press down to remove large air bubbles.
- Grease the bottom and sides of an 8 or 9 inch (20 – 22.5 cm) springform pan or cake pan (or line a baking sheet with parchment paper) and transfer the dough to the prepared pan. Similar to spreading pizza dough, use your fingers to stretch it out into an 8 or 9 inch circle, of approximately even thickness.
- Cover baking pan with a towel or plastic wrap and put in a warm place (use the ‘proof’ setting if your oven has this, or put it in the oven with just the light turned on). Let the dough rise until about doubled in height; approximately 45 minutes.
- If rising dough in the oven, remove pan then preheat oven to 400F.
- With your fingertips, to create deep holes all over the surface of the dough, spaced about 3/4 inch (2 cm) apart. Stir together the 2 tablespoons (30 mL) each of maple syrup and olive oil and brush a little bit of this all over the surface of the dough. Reserve remaining mixture for dipping bread in when eating.
- Poke a berry into each hole, making sure they are down far enough to stay in place when the dough puffs up during baking. Sprinkle maple sugar over the surface of the bread.
- Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before cutting.
- Serve focaccia with maple-olive oil mixture in a small bowl for dipping, and, if you like, another mixture of equal parts white balsamic and olive oil, also for dipping.
Serves 4; recipe can easily be doubled.