22 November 2009

A Recipe for Butternut Squash Focaccia with Caramelized Onions

Butternut Focaccia with Caramelized Onions

Who doesn't love the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven? This feeling is something you just can't purchase at your local bakery or at Costco. Making bread is an act to not only feed my family and myself, but to nourish my soul as well. I can pick up a  fresh loaf of bread within a five-minute walking distance from my home, but I occasionally like to make my own bread just for the comfort factor. When I attended the very first ever Foodbuzz Festival I was one of the lucky recipients of  the new Zoë François and Jeff Hertzberg book Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. I have been eagerly browsing through it's pages and have my eye on a pumpkin brioche, but before I venture into artisan breads I was looking for something to do with the leftover mashed, roasted butternut squash I had on hand.

One bread I enjoy making at home is focaccia. In addition to thinking it's one of the easier breads to bake, I also love it's diversity. It is quite often baked with sea salt and rosemary, but, you can easily add thyme or sage instead, not to mention goat cheese, caramelized onions, olives, garlic, nuts, anchovies, and fresh tomatoes.The sky is the limit!!!!Don't you just love it!!!

Focaccia or panis focacius is a traditional Italian bread whose recipe dates back to ancient Rome. It was a flat bread baked in the ashes of the fireplace. The word is derived from the Latin focus meaning “centre” and also “fireplace” ...the fireplace being in the centre of the house. Like pizza, it is made from a simple and basic yeast dough that is often cooked with olive oil.

As mentioned earlier I had some leftover butternut squash so I decided to bake a focaccia loosely based on a recipe I found on the internet from Gattina of Kitchen Unplugged. The Internet is a very useful tool when searching for ideas. She had produced a foccacia using mashed pototoes so I said to myself why not try butternut squash instead.  When I was in Greece a few years back on the small island of Kea at Keartisinal Aglaia Kremezi taught us how to make a focaccia using zucchini picked fresh from her garden and then grated into the dough. What Aglaia taught me was to make use of what is available to you as well as use the best ingredients possible. This is how you will become a success in your own kitchen and leave people wanting more!!!

To follow through with the almost sweet tendencies of the squash I chose to caramelize some cippolini onions to add on top. These are small sweet onions, having more residual sugar than garden-variety white or yellow onions, but not quite as sweet as shallots. Their sweetness makes for a lovely addition to recipes where you might want to use whole caramelized onions.  Replace the cipollini onions with shallots if you cannot find them as they will substitute very well. Shallots are quite a bit pricier. The onions add a sweet flavor that plays off the salt in this bread nicely. Feel free to use chopped kalamata olives instead, add goat cheese, or just use herbs and salt. To add that depth of flavour you will find the method of roasting your butternut squash here.

Once the dough has risen it is common practice to "dot" the bread. This creates multiple wells in the bread by using a finger or the handle of a utensil to poke the unbaked risen dough. As a way to preserve moisture in the bread, olive oil is then spread over the dough, by hand or with a pastry brush prior to rising and baking. Whatever you do, your house will smell like HOME. It is simply not something that can be duplicated!!!!

The verdict.....This bread was delicious and can be made in stages or made all in the same day depending on your own schedule. Everything about it appealed to me. This is the perfect base recipe for making all sorts of different flavoured focaccia bread! With it's gorgeous orange hue this would be perfect for the American Thanksgiving coming up. A Happy holiday to all our American friends. I will be making this again and again and have even entered it in a recipe contest.

**Butternut Squash Focaccia with Caramelized Onions**

8 oz /1 cup mashed butternut squash, precooked ( I had leftover roasted butternut which makes a world of difference!!)
25g fresh yeast or 1 package dry
3 cups flour (+ 1/4 cup for dusting)
1 cup whole milk, lukewarm
2 teaspoons sea salt (and extra for topping)
5 teaspoons canola or corn oil
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil ( and extra for drizzling on top)
1 teaspoons dried crushed oregano
a little water (if the dough is too dry)
1 cup caramelized onions (see recipe below)
dash of chili flakes or red peppercorns
*************************
In a large mixing bowl, combine fresh yeast, flour, mashed butternut squash, oregano, both oils and salt. Add milk (most of it but not all... later during the kneading after you get a good feeling of its moisture, then decide if more milk is needed).

Dust the work table with  1/4 cup of flour. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead the dough until elastic and smooth. Please note that the dough in the beginning feels a bit dry, but later turns sticky (so don't rush to add excessive liquid too soon). The dough should be slightly sticky.

Put the dough in a large bowl pregreased with olive oil, cover with pre-greased plastic wrap and  place the bowl on the lowest shelf of the fridge; let it proof overnight.

The following day remove the dough from the fridge and fold it (but do not knead) a few times, just to re-distribute the yeast cells.

Grease the baking tray with olive oil, and your hands too; gently press the dough until it reaches the sides of the pan. This may require a resting period depending on whether or not the dough is too springy depending on the gluten content of your flour. Sprinkle with the caramelized onions and chili flakes. Cover with  plastic wrap and let rise until it has a doubled in volume.

"Dot" the bread with your finger or the handle of a wooden spoon to create dimples. If the dough seems sticky dip your finger into a tiny bit of flour or olive oil. Brush olive oil onto the surface of bread. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Pre-heat oven to 230 C/450 F.

Bake the focaccia for 5 minutes, then lower to 200 C/400 F until it's done, it may take 20 - 25 mins in total. Unmold the bread and let it completely cool on a rack.The focaccia tastes best in the first 2 days.
Good enough to make 6 sandwiches, or simply to cut into chunks, accompanied with tomato sauce (or in this case a nice dip or spread).

Caramelized Onions

1 cup sliced cipollini onions (or shallots)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar

Heat olive oil in a medium to large pan. Add onions and sauté on medium low for about five minutes. Add the sugar and stir. Cook the onions until they are soft and a light golden colour.






What are our friends doing with focaccia?????????????

Susan at A Year in Bread - Easy Rosemary Focaccia
Luisa of The Wednesday Chef - Focaccia di Patate
Seven Fishes.com - Easy Italian Herb Focaccia
Martha Stewart - Eggplant Focaccia
Bay Area Bites - Caramelized Cipollini Onion Focaccia
Margot of Coffee & Vanilla - Green Olive Focaccia
Pinch My Salt - Herbed Focaccia from the Bread Bakers Apprentice
Best Blogger Tips

55 comments:

  1. That is such an original focaccia! Really beautiful and tempting!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    ReplyDelete
  2. Looks delish! I love the color it gets from the butternut squash!

    ReplyDelete
  3. That looks amazing! I can imagine the smell baking.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The color is absolutely seductive! I love almost anything made with butternut squash, and the dip looks like a perfect match for it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Beautiful recipe, sounds delish... must try it out someday! :)
    Thank you for the link, much appreciated ;)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh my goodness, pure heaven! I adore focaccia, and, well, with the squash and the caramelized onions, you've made my favorite bread even better! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  7. roasted BN squash in bread - WOW. This sounded good until I read that you used roasted squash - then i could smell it. Great job putting together this recipe - and thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh, wow! Your focaccia looks heavenly! The squash/onion combination is perfect. This one is definitely a keeper!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Looks so delicious Val! I love how butternut squash adapts to sweet and savory dishes!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Really gorgeous and delicious sounding bread, Val. I love caramelized onions in anything. Of course, I love bread with anything, too. :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Butternut squash is great, now I can't stop thinking about this delicious focaccia!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I love all your butternut squash recipes! This foccacia looks amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Absolutely to die for Val...great use of ingredients! The onion on top are genius...the aroma must have been hypnotising!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Looks super beautiful, Val. I love the colour the squash gives the bread! I like seeing squash in different things besides soup, too!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I am a focaccia bread nut! I've never had it this way. Yum! It looks terrific!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I love this time of the year when there is such a vast array of pumpkin recipes. I love the idea of this beautiful yellow foccacia!!!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I can't wait to get the cookbook. What a great way to enjoy focaccia Val.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Focaccia in your hand becomes an incredible treat!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I am bookmarking this: it's a "must try it very soon."

    ReplyDelete
  20. that's a hearty loaf o' bread, and an awesome use for squash! it's certainly the most unique focaccia i've ever seen, and the color is just amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Great, great recipe Val! I love that rich color of the focaccia and I can imagine its delightful flavor.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I adore making bread- you're right about it being good for the soul. If I didn't already have the polenta in the fridge I would definitely make this as a Thanksgiving appetizer!

    ReplyDelete
  23. If it wasn't tasty enough with the butternut squash, you added caramelized onions! I'm thinking some parmesan cheese on top next time would be yummy.

    ReplyDelete
  24. This is beautiful Val, I would have never thought to add that, and I love what you said about grating zucchini into the dough. Such great ideas!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Focaccia in your hand becomes an incredible treat!

    best steak online

    ReplyDelete
  26. Looks wonderful. I used to bake bread all of the time years ago, and loved making a foccaccia that I topped with tomato paste and tons of onions. I never would have thought to add squash.

    I'm going to be making bread for only the second time in at least 10 years this week. I'm so excited.

    ReplyDelete
  27. A very unique focaccia with butternut squash, sounds just wonderful!

    ReplyDelete
  28. wow what an amazing bread i bet it smelt divine

    ReplyDelete
  29. I've made focaccia from Peter Reinhart's book, and it IS one of the best breads I know! This one looks terrific -- I love the use of the leftover squash paired with cipollini onions.

    ReplyDelete
  30. You are driving me crazy with all these squash recipes! I also make a squash focaccia and it is one of the nicest breads to eat. I have also bookmarked your pasta shells to make this week.

    ReplyDelete
  31. And here I thought I had an original recipe Food Junkie:D

    ReplyDelete
  32. Ummm...if I give you my address, will you fedex some of that over?? It looks scrumptious!

    ReplyDelete
  33. This is SO clever! I've never seen it before but I know that it would be nothing but gorgeous :D

    ReplyDelete
  34. I love foccacia and have made it once, but an so eager to try it again after seeing it being made at my work twice daily....the smell teases so much, you have no idea. Four large loaves each time too....but I rarely get any because by the end of service it is all gone :(

    ReplyDelete
  35. This sounds completely amazing! Focaccia is by far my favorite bread and I have really been into infusing pumpkin/winter squash in everything lately. I will definitely be trying out this recipe!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Vall! this look absolutely nice and belle!! love it! And I love your new picture you look so nice!! xxxxgloria

    ReplyDelete
  37. That looks really good. I wonder how sage would go on this.

    ReplyDelete
  38. I love this focaccia! So original and delicious. I have just ordered the book, looking forward to trying the recipes!

    ReplyDelete
  39. This sounds delicious! I have made potato focaccia, but never one with squash. Yum, look at it's beautiful colour.

    ReplyDelete
  40. No way Val, how amazing is this. Two of my fav things in one recipe!! It's beautiful!!

    ReplyDelete
  41. And I have lots of cooked butternut squash in the freezer.... This is on my list. Maybe with some soup.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I even love that word focaccia :)

    I'm happy you liked the book so much, I just recently found out about it after I did my post. Healthy and bread seem to be right up my alley!

    And you're right about that smell... it's HOME for sure :)

    ReplyDelete
  43. I know I would love this! I love foccacia. I made something similar to this last year.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Caramelized onions and focaccia are my weakness. Great recipe, Val

    ReplyDelete
  45. Caramelized onions and focaccia are my weakness. Great recipe, Val

    ReplyDelete
  46. what a colorful foccacia!! this is one yummy and healthy bread!!

    ReplyDelete
  47. This looks like an awesome recipe! So pretty and colorful! Looking forward to trying this one out...
    XOXO Angelique from Bitchin' Lifestyle

    ReplyDelete
  48. What a scrumptious photo! Your focaccia is beautiful. I just love the color. :)

    ReplyDelete
  49. The brilliant saffron colour of these are like a sunburst. Eating seasonal food always tastes and looks better.

    ReplyDelete
  50. That looks amazing! Beautiful color.
    Your blog is fantastic.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Your Focaccia looks amazing! Makes me wanna take a bite :-)

    ReplyDelete
  52. This looks amazing. Do you think it would be good for a beginner (leavened bread) baker? Any recommendations for a good "starter" recipe?

    ReplyDelete
  53. I have a question. Why would you not use olive oil throughout the recipe? You have corn or canola listed as the main oil. Is it because it would be overpowering or is there a reason I'm not aware of? I haven't made much bread so I don't know if different oils have a different effect.
    Thank you for this recipe, you've made me want to try making bread!

    ReplyDelete
  54. Hi Unknown. Cannola oil will be my main choice because it is has a lighter consistency and will not weigh down the bread. A little olive oil is added for flavour.

    ReplyDelete

Welcome to my home. Thank you so much for choosing to stay a while and for sharing our lives through food. I appreciate all your comments, suggestions, daily encouragement and support.

Val

This blog uses comment moderation therefore SPAMMERS, SELF-PROMOTERS and ADVERTISERS will be deleted.