It was 3 years ago today, that I received one of the sweetest food gifts I have ever received. I got it from my friend Julie, who is by far the most amazing chef I have ever had the chance to meet! She worked as a pastry chef and as a caterer for years. Now she is an amazing and beautiful mother of two, owns American Girl Baking Company (this is a side job for her) and works full time at Vine Connections, as their coordinator for Global Events. Yes, she is big time and I will totally be featuring her later. She brought me some Orange Chicken, roasted veggies and sweet potato focaccia bread. The whole meal was superb, but this was the super star. We have used it every Thanksgiving since, and it is always a hit with company. We also serve it with other meals throughout the year. It is great for sandwiches, even for a breakfast sandwich. Go ahead, make this one and you will be so glad you did!
Soft and moist this Sweet Potato Focaccia bread pairs well with any meal or being the star of any sandwich.
- 1 1/3 cup cooked sweet potato, mashed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup water (warm, 105 to 115 degrees)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to grease bowl/pan
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt, coarse
In large bowl of electric mixer or work-bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade, mix or pulse yeast, 1/2 cup flour, and 1/2 cup warm water until combined. Cover tightly with plastic wrap (or put work-bowl lid on) and set aside until bubbly, about 20 minutes. Add remaining dough ingredients, including sweet potato. If using mixer, fit with paddle attachment and mix on low speed (number 2 on Kitchen Aid) until dough comes together. Switch to dough hook attachment and increase speed to medium (number 4 on Kitchen Aid); continue kneading until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. For food processor, 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" 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.
Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees F. With two wet fingers, dimple risen dough. For the topping: Drizzle dough with oil and sprinkle evenly with rosemary and coarse salt, landing some in pools of oil.
Bake until focaccia bottom is golden brown and crisp, 23-25 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool slightly. Cut rectangular focaccia into squares or round focaccia into wedges; serve warm. Can store 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.
Prep time includes the time for the dough to rise.
Kids review: Once they took their first bite it was a winner. It did take some encouragement to get them to try it, because the rosemary freaked them out at first. After they tried it, they loved it!
Husband follow-up: He loves this bread. It is his favorite. If we take it somewhere to share, I have to guard it from him otherwise he would eat the entire thing. (And I am not joking!)