serves: makes 1 loaf
I loved the sweet fruit-studded focaccias I had as a child, so here is a recipe that celebrates a warm childhood memory. This focaccia is lovely for breakfast, for tea, or with after dinner coffee.
1 package active dry yeast, about 1 scant tablespoon
1 cup water, warm
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons olive oil
⅓ cup cornmeal
1 pint fresh figs
2 tablespoons sugar, or more if you like
Put the yeast in the large mixing bowl and pour 1/4 cup of the warm water over it. Because this is quite wet dough, it is easier to knead in a standing mixer but it you do not have one just use a big bowl and mix by hand. Let the yeast stand a few minutes to dissolve, then smear it around with your finger to make sure it is softened. Mix the salt with the rest of the water and pour it into the bowl along with 2 1/2 cups of the flour. Attach the dough hook and let it knead the dough for about 2 minutes, adding just a little more flour if it seems very wet.
Lightly flour your work surface and scrape the dough out of the bowl onto it. Turn the dough over on itself several times using a dough scraper and your floured hands; don't try to knead vigorously because the dough is too wet and sticky.
Clean out the mixing bowl and oil it lightly. Dump the dough in and turn it to grease all over. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and leave the dough to rise until it has more than doubled in volume-about one hour, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.
Select 8 plump figs of uniform size and save them for the topping, chop the rest roughly into about 6 pieces per fig and mix them in with the risen dough, deflating it and distributing them evenly.
Generously sprinkle cornmeal over at 8 X 12 area of the baking sheet. Turn the dough out onto the cornmeal and pour the remaining oil over, spreading it around with your fingers. Now pat and stretch the dough out into an oval shape approximately 8 inches wide and 11 to 12 inches long. Cut the reserved figs in half, stem to bottom, and arrange them at even intervals on top of the dough, cut side up, pressing them in slightly. Sprinkle the sugar all over the top.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes while the oven heats, then bake it for 25 minutes. Remove the bread to a rack. It should settle and cool for at least 10 minutes, then serve it warm. It can, of course, be reheated.