The days are shorter, the air crisper, and fall is finally here. Pumpkin season. The deep orange orbs creep in to the markets in early September, and seem to multiply as Halloween nears. We are fans of the nutrient—packed seeds nestled inside the squash. Scooping them out, cleaning them and roasting them make for a tasty snack, but we use so many that cracking the shells is impractical. Bought in bulk, the seeds are simple to pop into breads, cookies and anything we choose. Like a late fall sunset, the color of this bread is golden and vibrant. It pairs perfectly with all fall flavors, and we love it with a bowl of our Cauliflower and Cashew Soup. Toasted leftovers make a simple and satisfying breakfast.
Some would call this a focaccia, but it is one in only the broadest sense. The mashed sweet potato incorporated into the dough defies the traditional definition, but it is otherwise prepared like one, baked in a sheet pan and coated with olive oil before toppings are strewed on the surface. The sweet potato adds some moisture, but we add it mostly for its autumnal color, creating the perfect platform for our beloved pumpkin seeds.
SWEET POTATO AND PUMPKIN SEED FOCACCIA
Baking Time: 40 minutes
2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the pan
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 medium sweet potatoes, roasted, peeled and mashed (3/4 cup)
3/4 cups pumpkin seeds, shelled and lightly chopped
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled into small pieces
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, woody stems removed, finely chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup pumpkin seeds, shelled and lightly chopped
1 large onion, thinly sliced, caramelized using 1 tablespoon olive oil
One 10 x 15-inch baking pan, well oiled
- In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast on the warm water and whisk smooth. Add the 4 tablespoons of olive oil and whisk again.
- Combine the flour and 2 teaspoons of salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the hook attachment. Pour the yeast and water mixture into the flour, and mix it on low speed to combine. Beat in the mashed sweet potatoes and pumpkin seeds to form a wet uniform dough. Continue to mix the dough on low speed for 5 minutes. Transfer it to a clean, oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to double in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, in a warm place, or refrigerate overnight. While the dough is rising, prepare the toppings.
- After dough has doubled in size, press it on to the prepared pan. If the dough was chilled, leave the dough at room temperature for about 1 hour before using it. Working with oiled hands, spread the dough evenly to cover the bottom of the pan. If the dough resists, allow it to rest briefly before trying to stretch it again.
- Allow the dough to rest 15 minutes for freshly prepared dough and about 45 minutes for chilled dough. Insert dimples into the top by pressing your finger tips into the dough. Sprinkle pieces of goat cheese, thyme and pumpkin seeds over the top.Carefully distribute cooled onions over everything, and set aside for an additional 15-30 minutes.
- While the dough is rising in the pan, preheat the oven to 375° F. Bake it for about 45 to 55 minutes, until the focaccia is golden brown and firm. If onions begin to darken while baking, cover the focaccia with aluminum foil.
- Remove focaccia from the oven and cool it on a rack before slicing.