In what is definitely a big surprise to me, one of my favorite things about food blogging turns out to be connecting with other people. I'm an admitted social networking dweeb, a Facebook failure, with horrible posting anxiety. (Tell me. Am I the only one who wanted to throw up as I sat in front of my computer, mousie thing hovering over the "save and publish" button for my very first post? I had that awful sinking feeling like you get when you have to make a speech in front of a roomful of people. Who are judging your every word, if only in your own mind. I'd be OUT THERE! And the interwebz are FOREVER! ACK!) But it's actually turned out to be a lot of fun, discovering new peeps who share my interests and obsessions, getting to know them and seeing what they create. So I've been actively searching out groups to join, which is how I found the Avid Bakers.
ABC (for Avid Bakers Challenge) is a group of bakers (well…yeah) from around the world who choose a new recipe source–book or website–each year and post challenges from that source each month. This year, and last year as well, they've been baking from King Arthur Flour's website–one of my favorites–and this month's challenge recipe is Roasted Vegetable Focaccia. No whining from my corner, that's for sure.
This focaccia was a bit different from others I've baked in that it had an overnight starter and two rises the next day. But it made for an airy, bubbly dough that didn't collapse under the weight of all the veg I piled on. And I did pile it on…a bit too much maybe. King Arthur's blog talks about how this is a great way to use up the bushels of zucchini that the squash fairies leave on your doorstep and they're not kidding. This baby used 3, count 'em, 3 pounds of zukes. Plus a pound of cherry tomatoes. AND 2 bunches of scallions. My focaccia was completely covered in veggies, which I roasted the night before. It took just a tad longer to bake than the recipe recommended, probably because of the veggie overload, but it still browned nicely and had an awesomely crispy crust, thanks to a layer of olive oil on the sheet pan.
While it was good shortly after it came out of the oven, I thought it was actually much better the second day once the flavors had a chance to meld–very pizza-like. And it reheated very nicely too, with a little extra crispiness. I brought it to work and it disappeared in record time, so I always take that as a good sign. It's definitely something I'd make again, so thanks, ABC, for a great challenge!
roasted vegetable focaccia
- 113g cool water
- 1/16 teaspoon instant yeast
- 120g unbleached all purpose flour
- all of the starter (above)
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 113g lukewarm water*
- 241g all purpose flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 11g nonfat dry milk
- 25g olive oil
*Use 1 tablespoon less water in summer, 1 tablespoon more in winter
- 1361g zucchini, about 6 medium*
- olive oil
- pizza Seasoning, optional
- 2 bunches scallions*
- 1 pound cherry tomatoes*
- shaved Parmesan cheese, optional
* More or less. Don't sweat it.
- The day before you plan to bake, make the starter. Stir together the water and yeast, the add the flour, mixing together to make a paste. Cover and let sit at room temperature overnight for about 14 hours. It should be bubbly when ready.
- In the bowl of your mixer, add all of the dough ingredients including the starter and mix on low speed until it comes together. Continue mixing at medium speed for about 7 minutes until you have a smooth, soft dough.
- Lightly oil a container, place the dough inside, turn to coat with oil and cover. Let the dough rise until it's almost doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Deflate the dough, turn, cover and let rise again until almost doubled.
- While the dough is rising, prepare the vegetables. Cut the zucchini in 1/2"–3/4" thick slices. Drizzle with olive oil and pizza seasoning if using, toss to cover, then place the zucchini in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Cut the tomatoes in half, drizzle with oil and seasoning, then place them cut side down on another lined baking sheet.
- Cut the scallions into 1-1/2"–2" pieces, toss with oil and seasoning and add them to the baking sheet with the tomatoes.
- Roast the zucchini in a preheated 400° oven for about 1 hour, turning the rounds over at the midpoint. The zucchini should be golden brown when done.
- Roast the tomatoes and scallions at 400° for about 30 minutes, until softened. (Keep an eye on the scallions to make sure they don't burn.)
- Remove the vegetables, loosen them from the pan and set aside. (You can also prepare the veg the day before and refrigerate them until needed.)
- Line an 18"x13" baking sheet with parchment, then drizzle generously with olive oil to coat.
- Deflate the dough and shape it into a rectangle and place it into the pan, patting to cover. Let the dough rest for about 15 minutes, then pat into shape again. Try to fill the pan to the corners, resting and patting the dough as needed.
- Place the roasted zucchini on top of the dough, then cover and let rise. The dough should be very puffy at the end of the rise time which can take between 2–3 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 425° towards the end of the rise time.
- Place the pan on a lower rack in your oven and bake for about 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and top with the scallions and tomatoes. Return the pan to the oven and bake until golden brown, about another 10–15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and top with shaved Parmesan.
Adapted from King Arthur Flour