Summer may be winding down but I’m going to keep the picnic and patio food coming. As a Canadian, I am hearty when it comes to cold weather. I will gladly sit on a patio deep into November. And if apricots were in-season that far into the fall, I would happily eat this Apricot and Olive Focaccia while I did it. This bread is studded with fresh apricot wedges and Kalamata olives before being baked to golden perfection. It is then glazed with honey while it’s still hot and sprinkled with crushed salted pistachios. Focaccia may be traditionally billed as a starter but this focaccia eats like a meal. In fact, I ate half of this for dinner and it was a solid choice all around.
Bread is one of those things I can never say no to. Particularly when it is doused in olive oil. Focaccia is one of my favorite things in the whole world because it’s a dish unto itself. It isn’t part of a sandwich or toasted and tossed into a salad. The focaccia is the main event. The olive oil and balsamic are its accompaniments. It plays second fiddle to nothing. Leave it to the Italians to devise a starter that requires you to fill up on bread. And focaccia is a beautiful blank slate for any topping that’s in season or you might fancy. Dress it up, dress it down, there’s no wrong answer when it comes to focaccia.
Today’s Apricot and Olive Focaccia is most definitely dressed up. But in spite of its rather glam appearance, focaccia is surprisingly simple to make. I’m sure it’s difficult to perfect, as so many deceptively simple foods are. But I will leave focaccia perfection to the professionals and show you my fool-proof, stress-free method for making an imperfect but deeply satisfying batch of homemade focaccia.
Naturally, homemade focaccia starts with yeast. I went with active dry yeast, which means I had to bloom it in warm water with a little sugar. It’s not a difficult process and it only takes 10 minutes of your time. But if you’re using quick-rise instant yeast, you can skip this step. I find active dry yeast yields more consistent results for me but I am not basing that on any scientific fact. It’s just a feeling I have. So if you prefer to use quick-rise instant yeast because that’s either what you have or works for you, go for it.
Once the yeast is foamy, toss it into the bowl of a stand mixer. Now, if you don’t have a stand mixer, you can make bread by hand. But fair warning, it will take a lot longer. Making bread is a much more sustainable practice if you have a stand mixer and a dough hook. It spares your forearms and your sanity. So if you’re looking to get into breadmaking in a big way, a hobby I do recommend, by the way, spend the money and get yourself a kick-ass stand mixer.
Now, I like to add my flour to the focaccia in parts. I usually start with two cups of flour in my initial mix and then I add the remaining flour in 1/4 cup increments. I find this is the best way to achieve the consistency I want. Adding too little flour to the dough is easy to fix. Adding too much flour takes a lot more time to trouble shoot in my opinion. So I prefer to air on the side of too little flour rather than too much.
Finally, finish your focaccia dough by kneading it by hand. This is the best way to become acquainted with the texture of your dough and assess what it needs. Yes, the dough hook does knead the dough. But getting it to that ideal silky smooth, elastic state is best done by hand. You’ll know your dough is in a good place when you feel it.
Grease a 8×11″ baking sheet with olive oil and form your dough into a rough rectangle. It will not fill your baking sheet at this point, so don’t sweat it. Just plunk the dough in the baking sheet and cover it. Let the dough rise for an hour and a half. At that point, the dough should be filling the baking sheet with no problem. Refine the shape and dimple the surface with your fingers before adding the apricot and olives. And really press them into the dough. Finish the focaccia with a healthy drizzle of olive oil and pop the bread in the oven.
Now, you could leave it here and ride off into the sunset with your golden focaccia, olive oil, and balsamic. Or you can take it up a notch by glazing your focaccia with honey and sprinkling it with salted pistachios. The best time to apply the honey is when the bread is still very hot. The honey will melt and spread across the focaccia more easily that way. If you’re not a pistachio fan, you could add crushed red pepper flakes instead. Or simply go with a good quality finishing salt.
So that’s everything you need to know about this Apricot and Olive Focaccia with Honey and Pistachios. This is a simple recipe with a ton of room for improvisation and creativity, so make the focaccia you want to see in the world. The possible flavor combinations are quite frankly infinite. But if you do choose to make this recipe as is, I can promise you a salty, sweet, and crunchy treat that you won’t soon forget.
Apricot and Olive Focaccia with Honey and Pistachios
- 1 Stand mixer with a dough hook
- 1 8×11" baking sheet
- 1⅓ cup warm water
- 2¼ tsp active dry yeast
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- ¼ cup + 2 tbsp olive oil divided
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 3¼ -3½ cups all-purpose flour
- 4 apricots cut into wedges
- 8 -12 Kalamata olives pitted
- ⅓ cup salted pistachios shells removed
- 2 tbsp honey
- Pour the water, yeast, and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Mix with a fork and let stand for 10 minutes or until foamy. **1⅓ cup warm water, 2¼ tsp active dry yeast, 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- To the yeast mixture add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the salt, and 2 cups of the flour. Set the mixer to low and mix until a loose dough forms. Continue to add flour in 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup increments until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl and is slightly tacky to the touch. ***¼ cup + 2 tbsp olive oil, 3¼ -3½ cups all-purpose flour, 1 tbsp kosher salt
- Place the dough on a floured counter and knead it for 7-10 minutes or until the dough feels elastic and silky to the touch. Set it aside.
- Pour half of the remaining olive oil into the baking sheet. Use a pastry brush to create an even layer. Stretch the dough into a rough rectangle and place it on the baking sheet. The dough will not fit the baking sheet at this point. Cover the dough and set it aside to rise for an hour and a half.¼ cup + 2 tbsp olive oil
- When the dough is almost finished rising, preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Once the dough has risen, stretch it gently to fit the corners of the baking sheet. Using your fingers, dimple the surface of the dough and press the apricot wedges and olives into it. Drizzle the focaccia with the remaining olive oil and place it in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, rotating the pan once halfway through.4 apricots, 8 -12 Kalamata olives
- While the focaccia is in the oven, place the pistachios in a mortar and pestle and crush them coarsely. **** Pour the nuts into a bowl and set them aside.⅓ cup salted pistachios
- Once the focaccia is done, take it out of the oven and immediately brush it all over with the honey. Sprinkle with the pistachios and let cool for 10 minutes in the pan prior to transferring to a cutting board. You can either let the focaccia cool completely or slice and serve warm. Serve alongside olive oil and balsamic vinegar.2 tbsp honey