Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pumpkin Focaccia

We've had some crazy weather mood-swings the past few weeks - from single digits to a few days in the mid-50s, the weather can't seem to decide what it wants to be. The nice thing is that this means any ice that forms doesn't stick around for more than a few days. Oddly, however, my cooking can't decide if it's winter or spring. Winter means hearty, warm, comforting meals. Spring means fresh, herb-y creations. I suppose every season needs some good baking though, because that's about the only thing I've gotten creative with recently.

Pumpkin focaccia 2

It seems like everything I've posted the past few weeks is bread. Or baking. No real entrees! Our meals have been fairly simple, with lots of leftovers, and repeats of things I've already posted. Like bagels. Or this potato salad.  Grilled fish. You get the idea. I'm planning to try a few new, more creative ideas this weekend - so here's hoping I'll have some real meals to show you soon. In the meantime, enjoy the baked goodness!

The pumpkin here doesn't really lend much flavor to the bread; I added it for moisture and softness. It makes the bread a beautiful golden color. The flavor is much more from the herbs and pumpkin seeds, which give a hearty, substantial feeling to this bread.

Like I mentioned before, you can always just use more rosemary in place of the lavender. Or use whatever herbs you like best. I imagine some fresh basil would be a delicious addition.

Pumpkin focaccia1

Pumpkin Focaccia
This hearty flat bread is ideal for dunking in soups.
Yield: 2 loaves

INGREDIENTS
2 cups bread flour
1 1/4 cups white-whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp lavender
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
2 tsp instant yeast
1 - 1 1/4 cups warm water
1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

mortarandpestle

DIRECTIONS
1. Crush rosemary and lavender in a mortar and pestle (or, in a bowl, using the back of a spoon).  Combine flours, salt, crushed herbs, seeds, and yeast in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the water and pumpkin puree. Stir until all the flour is incorporated, adding extra water 1 tbsp at a time if the dough is too dry. (You may need to switch from a spoon to your hands at some point.)
2. Knead the dough for 5 minutes or so, on a clean surface, until it is smooth and elastic. Add some flour to the surface if your dough is sticking too much.
3. Lightly oil a large mixing bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and flip once (so the dough gets a light coating of oil). Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm place for an hour or so, until the dough has approximately doubled in size.
4. Divide the dough into two pieces, and shape each into a flat bread about 1/4 inch thick using your hands. I made two oval-shaped loaves, so they would fit on my round pizza stone side-by-side. Place the doughs onto a lightly oiled baking sheet, and brush the top with olive oil. Sprinkle on the pumpkin seeds. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until puffed, about 25 minutes.
5. While the dough rises, place your pizza stone in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
6. When the dough is done rising, reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees, and carefully transfer the dough to the hot pizza stone. Bake for about 15 minutes, until golden brown. Cool loaves on a wire rack.

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