Topping focaccia with olives, figs, and thyme makes a pretty design and adds flavor to this bread. Have you ever tried potato focaccia—adding riced potato to the dough contributes to a phenomenal texture.
Potato Focaccia Recipe
When developing our best focaccia recipe, we noticed that a couple of recipes from Southern Italy added riced potato to the dough. We found that it produced a bread with moistness, a pleasantly soft texture, and a high rise, but the dough still needed more lift.
Proof + Rising for the Best Texture
We knew that sponges (relatively thin mixtures of yeast, water, and flour that are allowed to ferment briefly) are often used to lend flavor and create air holes in bread. So we tried a quick sponge with our working focaccia recipe, stirring the yeast, half the water, and a small portion of the flour together in a small bowl, then covering the bowl with plastic wrap and letting the sponge rest for 30 minutes before adding the remaining ingredients.
The fermentation of the sponge produced wonderfully large bubbles, and the result was a bread that rose very high and had a nice, light texture. We topped the tender potato focaccia with briny black olive, sweet dried figs, and fresh thyme.
A Note on Olive Oil
For the fig focaccia with olives, we suggest a fruity olive oil or you can go with one that is more herbaceous. La Tourangelle extra-virgin olive oil will have the most punchy flavor and is what recommended for the bread. You use a lot of olive oil to make focaccia (it’s what gives it the delectably crunchy golden crust) so make sure it’s fresh and of good quality.
Figs for Focaccia
We use black olives to top the bread with our recommendation of using Mission Figs for the right flavor pairing. You could try using green olives and if you go that route, try swapping in nutty and delicately sweet Golden Figs.
Before You Begin the Focaccia with Olives: a Note on Yeast
Rapid-rise or instant yeast reduces the preparation time by more than an hour. If you use an equal amount of regular active dry yeast instead, let the sponge in step 2 develop for thirty minutes rather than twenty, and increase the first and second rises to one and one-half hours each.
How to Serve the Bread
We used the Emile Henry focaccia baker to make the bread and it’s a beautiful serving vessel you can bring to the table, slicing inside the dish too. This Thanksgiving, swap out the rolls. Slice the focaccia into strips or squares to serve with dinner. You can also cut it into rectangles and then slice each rectangle in half to toast and top for a savory breakfast or fill for sandwiches for lunch.
Focaccia with Black Olives, Figs + Thyme
- 1 (9oz) medium baking potato , peeled and quartered
- 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast or rapid-rise yeast
- 3 1/2 cups (17 1/2oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup warm water (105 – 115 degrees)
- 2 tablespoons La Tourangelle extra-virgin olive oil , plus more for oiling bowl and pan
- 1 1/4 teaspoons table salt
- 1 cup (6oz) Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Dried Figs , stemmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons La Tourangelle extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 24 large black olives , pitted
- 3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
For the Dough
- Boil 1 quart water in small saucepan; add potato and simmer until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain potato well; cool until it can be handled comfortably and put through fine disk on ricer or grate through large holes on box grater. You will need 1 1/3 cups lightly packed potato for this recipe.
- Meanwhile, in work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade, mix or pulse yeast, 1/2 cup (2 ½ ounces) flour, and 1/2 cup warm water until combined. Let stand until bubbly, about 20 minutes. Add remaining dough ingredients, including reserved potato. Process until dough is smooth and elastic, about 40 seconds.
- Transfer dough to lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat with oil, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm, draft-free area until dough is puffy and doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
- With wet hands (to prevent sticking), press dough flat into generously oiled 15 1/2-by-10 1/2-inch jelly roll pan. Or, halve and flatten each piece of dough into 8-inch round on large (at least 18 inches long), generously oiled baking sheet. Cover dough with lightly greased or oil-sprayed plastic wrap; let rise in warm, draft-free area until dough is puffy and doubled in volume, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
For the Topping
- Meanwhile, place figs in medium bowl, cover with boiling water, and let stand until softened and plump, about 15 minutes. Drain figs. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. With two wet fingers, dimple risen dough at regular intervals.
- Drizzle dough with oil and add one olive or fig to each oil-filled dimple. Sprinkle evenly with thyme and coarse salt.
- Bake until focaccia bottom(s) are golden brown and crisp, 23 to 25 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool slightly. Cut rectangular focaccia into squares or round focaccia into wedges; serve warm.(Focaccia can be kept on counter for several hours and reheated just before serving. Or, wrap cooled focaccia in plastic and then foil and freeze for up to 1 month; unwrap and defrost in 325-degree oven until soft, about 15 minutes.)