April and May is the peak strawberry season and producers ship out around 9 million pounds of the fruit a day. This lush bread is a surprising twist on the berry and offers a sweet-tart taste from the caramelized berries and onion. You’ll want to go for a less sweet berry as the flavor will intensify during cooking. Try it sliced with a good olive oil drizzled over or a light spread of a delicious chèvre cheese and pair with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc.
1¼ oz package dry yeast
1 cup warm water (100–110 degrees F)
1 teaspoon honey
2½ cups flour
1 teaspoons kosher salt
¼ cup plus 5 Tbs olive oil, divided
1 medium sweet onion, quartered and thinly sliced
2½ teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1½ teaspoons pure maple syrup
1 cup strawberries, hulled and sliced lengthwise into 1/8–inch pieces
8–10 fresh basil leaves, sliced chiffonade
Coarse sea salt
1. Combine yeast, water and honey in a medium bowl; let rest for about 5 minutes, until bubbles form on the top. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and kosher salt; set aside. Add ¼ cup of olive oil to the yeast mixture and stir to combine. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour wet ingredients into dry. Stir well to combine, then turn dough onto a lightly flour surface and knead until dough is smooth and supple, about 10 minutes. Form dough into a ball and place it in a bowl greased with ½ tablespoon olive oil. Cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and let rest until the dough approximately doubles in size, about 1 hour.
2. Brush a 9×13–inch baking sheet with ½ tablespoon olive oil. Remove dough from bowl and press it into the sheet with your fingers until it touches the edges. Using your fingers, gently press indentations into the dough, all over the surface. Gently brush the dough with 2 tablespoons of olive oil; let rest, lightly covered, until it puffs up slightly, about 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and caramelized, 15–20 minutes. Stir in balsamic vinegar and maple syrup; let cook until liquid is evaporated, 2–3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool slightly.
4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Lightly press strawberry slices into the top of the dough, then scatter onions and basil evenly across the top. Drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the top and sprinkle with sea salt to taste. Bake until the focaccia is golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before cutting into pieces. Serve drizzled with more olive oil or spread with fresh goat cheese.
Looking for a few more TIPS on making focaccia? Check out this LA Times article with Nancy Silverton of La Brea Bakery and how she perfected her focaccia recipe.