Coarse kosher salt sprinkled on focaccia both tastes and looks great. Mascarpone melts into the dough to create a rich, buttery crust that won our Test Kitchen's highest rating.
1 teaspoon honey
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 1/4 cups warm water (100° to 110°), divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/4 cup (2 ounces) mascarpone cheese
3 dried figs, quartered
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
How to Make It
Dissolve honey and yeast in 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl; let stand 10 minutes. Add remaining 3/4 cup water and 2 tablespoons oil; stir until blended. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 2 3/4 cups flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt to yeast mixture; stir until blended. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes); add enough of remaining 1/2 cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel sticky).
Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.)
Punch dough down. Place dough in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Pat dough to fit pan. Cover and let rise 30 minutes. Uncover dough. Make indentations in top of dough using the handle of a wooden spoon or fingertips. Cover and let rise 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 400°.
Uncover dough. Spoon small dollops of cheese over dough. Gently spread cheese over dough. Sprinkle fig quarters evenly over cheese. Drizzle 1/2 teaspoon oil over dough. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake at 400° for 23 minutes or until browned on bottom and sounds hollow when tapped. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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This bread is neither sweet nor savory; more of a hybrid that isn't very good at being either. Whether the bread itself needs to be sweetened or simply more of the toppings added I'm not sure, but it needs "something". Granted I did use all white whole-wheat flour (starting with a boule and using a slow rise in the fridge with half the yeast), but this would not have adversely affected the flavor. Perhaps a good appetizer bread or one to have with a salad, but I'm not sure I would make this again - at least not without some tweaking.
I'm made this a couple of times and it turned out beautifully. I love figs, so maybe that's why I think it's so great :) I have made a sandwich using it with leftover ham and some apples, and it was even more delicious. Will make over and over!