I may have gone a bit nuts with all the blueberry recipes lately, but I can't help it. They are just so sweet and delicious. They are especially lovely in savory dishes like this blueberry and thyme focaccia.
Focaccia, which is similar in texture and style to pizza is easier to make and way more forgiving in my opinion, as there is no rolling or stretching of the dough. As the focaccia cooks, the blueberries burst, and release their juices. The thyme adds a nice woodsy note, which pairs great with the blueberries.
- Stick to bread flour as opposed to all-purpose flour for this recipe as it has a higher protein content and will help the dough rise and keep its shape. This is key to focaccia since all those deep pockets will absorb the yummy olive oil!
- Use a thermometer to measure the temperature of the warm water. Water that is too hot will kill the yeast, and water that is too cool will not "feed" the yeast enough for it to rise.
- Use good olive oil if you can, as the bread gets its flavor from the fruity olive oil.
- Fresh thyme is best here as dried thyme will lose its earthy flavor when heated.
- Please allow yourself some time for the 2 rises. Plan ahead if you making it for a crowd.
- Focaccia is pretty forgiving and doesn't need to look perfect. The more rustic looking the better!
Blueberry and Thyme Focaccia
For the focaccia
- 3½ cups bread flour
- 1 package active dry yeast (2¼ tsp)
- 2 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1¼ cups warm water Water temperature should be around 110°. I use a thermometer to ensure my water is at the right temperature.
For the topping
- 1¼ cup fresh blueberries
- 5-6 sprigs fresh thyme leaves (¼ cup loose packed thyme leaves)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes or kosher salt
- ⅓ cup olive oil; divided
Proof the yeast
- Place the yeast in a small bowl with the sugar. Add the warm water on top of the yeast. Gently stir to mix. Let stand 5 minutes. The yeast mixture will look foamy.
To make the focaccia
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook attachment, add the flour, salt and 2 tablespoon of olive oil. When the yeast mixture is proofed, add it to the flour mixture. (Alternately, you can make this by hand in a bowl. You may need to increase the knead time until it reaches a smooth round ball).
- Mix the dough on low for 3 minutes, or until the dough forms a ball around the hook attachment. (If it seems too wet, add a little more flour so that it is no longer sticky).
- Remove the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead by hand a few more times until it is smooth and form it into a ball.
- Lightly oil a bowl, and place the dough on top. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place for 60 minutes; it should double in size (see recipe notes).
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- After 60 minutes, take the dough out of the bowl and punch it down. Take a 9x13 baking pan, and pour half the oil into the pan. Place the dough in the pan, and gently stretch it until it fills the edges of the pan. Now take your fingers and start to poke deep dents all over the dough. Really get in there! Cover again, and let rise about 30 minutes (it won't rise as much as the first time).
- After the second rise, give it another good poke with your finger tips all over. Scatter the blueberries on top, followed by the thyme and sea salt. Pour the remaining oil over the top. (Don't worry - you need all of this oil to give the focaccia it's crunchy but soft interior).
- Bake in the pan at 400° for 20 minutes until golden brown on top.
- Serve immediately or allow to cool, and store at room temperature for up to 2 days (wrapping tightly in plastic wrap). To refresh the focaccia, reheat at 350° for 10 minutes. Feel free to drizzle a little extra olive oil on top before eating.
- Allowing the dough to rise:
- Allow the dough to rise in a warm place. You can try a sunny window or next to a heating grate, but the best luck I have had is turning the oven on to its lowest setting (mine is 175), and placing it in the oven with door open.
- Don't be afraid of all the oil:
- It may seem as if your dough is floating in olive oil. No worries- the dough needs the olive oil to give it a crunchy exterior. I've tried this with less, but it just doesn't brown as well.
- Fresh thyme please:
- Fresh thyme is the way to go here. Dried thyme will not yield the same results. Feel free to substitute basil or oregano.
- You can sub instant dry yeast for the active dry yeast. If you do, you can skip the proofing. The focaccia yielded better results for me with active dry yeast.