My personal harbinger of spring is when the local strawberry stand opens for business (Terry Berries). This year, it was January, and three varieties have been available: Gaviota, Albion, and Via Patricia. The latter is a delicious berry, not quite as red as the others, but definitely sweeter. If you want a berry to nibble on, Via Patricia is the one. On the other hand, Albions, while also tasty, hold up to heavier-duty uses, such as baking, and this is the variety I chose for my Babe challenge.
This month, our Kitchen-of-the-Month was Cathy Warner from Bread Experience. She asked the bakers to create a Spring Focaccia, using either a favorite recipe or one she offered using sourdough starter. I actually did both, since I do have a favorite recipe, and also starter in the fridge. The best version turned out to be my favorite recipe. The sourdough one ended up being super flat and hard as a rock. The starter is good, but it really does need a boost of yeast.
For the spring topping, I cut the Albion strawberries in half, lightly sugared them, then placed them on the focaccia dough and baked the bread for 20 minutes. To serve, I mixed some mascarpone with a small amount of sugar and a splash of vanilla. (I probably should find some clear vanilla, since the topping ended up a beige-y color.)
This strawberry-topped focaccia makes a lovely breakfast or a tasty afternoon snack with a cup of tea.
All the Babes are so creative, so it's worthwhile to stop by their blogs and see what spring toppings they chose. Also, if you want to participate and share your take on a spring topping, submit your focaccia to Cathy by May 30th, then check back a few days later to see the roundup.
Leaner/Lighter Quick Focaccia
(from The Best of Gourmet 1997)
3/4 cup warm water (105° to 115°)
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
The following ingredients are part of the original recipe that I omitted due to the nature of the topping:
1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
course salt to taste
Instead, I added some grated orange and lemon zest.
Lightly grease a 13 by 9 by 2 inch baking pan.
Mix the dry ingredients, including the yeast, in a bowl, then add the water until a soft dough forms. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until elastic and smooth, about 5 minutes. Shape into a ball, cover, and let rest about 10 minutes.
Roll out the dough to fit the baking pan; transfer to the pan, pressing it into the corners. Let the dough rise in a warm place, covered loosely with plastic wrap until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°.
Spread some soft butter on the dough, place the strawberry halves on top, and sprinkle lightly with sugar.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden. Cut into serving pieces and top with sweetened mascapone or a dusting of powdered sugar, if desired.