Fall has reached the East Coast. I didn’t realize how much I’d missed seasons, living in the Bay Area the past two years, until the chill actually hit New York a couple weeks ago. It’s brisk and invigorating for now, carrying promises of kaleidoscopic foliage and the ever-popular PSL, although in a few weeks it’ll turn on us in hostility. I’m celebrating the good fall vibes while they last by making good use of my oven again, now that the AC doesn’t need to be on full blast at all times.
Breadmaking is such a radical transformation of simple ingredients that it can only be expressed in a single cliché word: magical. Yeast proofing in warm water almost immediately becomes fragrant, evoking the loaf-to-be within five minutes. An hour later and it’s breathed life and air into a dull mass of flour and water; punch the dough down as much as you want, and it’ll puff gently back into a smooth plump round. Focaccia is especially hearty and satisfying, packed with whatever flavors and seasonings you want. (Maybe not just anything, exactly… I recently made a bonito focaccia envisioning a tasty umami bomb, but instead it was just weirdly fishy). Here, I added pumpkin seeds and dried jackfruit, a South Asian fruit similar in taste profile to mango, apple, and pineapple. I also baked them in a cupcake pan because the best part of a focaccia loaf is the corner piece and mini focaccias are essentially 100% corner! Heaven.
The key is a lot of olive oil, enough to fill the bottom of each cupcake mold around 1/8th inch high. It’ll give you a crisp crackling crust with a subtly fruity flavor, the perfect foundation for a spongelike bread studded with little alternating stars of citrus zing and nuttiness. Warm from the oven, spread with an optional pat of butter, these are irresistible.
Mini Jackfruit Pumpkin Seed Focaccia Recipe (makes 12)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole-wheat flour
- 3/4 cup warm water, 100-110 degrees F
- 1 tbsp yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp table salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for the pans
- 3 oz dried jackfruit, sliced into pieces
- 2 tbsp of pumpkin seeds
- Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
Proof the yeast: Combine the sugar, water, and yeast and set aside until foamy and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
Make the dough: Combine table salt and flour in a large bowl. Pour in the warm yeast water and stir until a sticky dough forms. Oil your hands and board with the 1 tbsp of oil (this will incorporate the oil into the dough and allow you to knead while adding a minimum amount of flour). Knead for 10-12 minutes until the dough is smooth, no longer sticking too much to hands and board. Use additional flour as needed, but very sparingly. Shape the dough into a ball. Lightly oil mixing bowl and roll the dough ball so it is coated with oil (this is to prevent the dough from sticking to the bowl as it rises). Cover with plastic.
First rise: Set the dough in the refrigerator and let it rise overnight, until doubled in size.
Second rise: Punch down the dough and add in the jackfruit pieces and pumpkin seeds. Knead to fully incorporate. Let rise again at room temperature, around 45 minutes, until doubled in size.
Shaping and proofing: Divide the dough into twelve even sized pieces. Fill each cavity of a 12-cup cupcake pan with 1/8 inches of oil and set dough pieces in the cavities, nudging gently to fill all the way to the edges. Sprinkle the tops lightly with coarse sea salt. Let proof for 30 minutes in a warm, draft-free location. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Bake: Bake at 425 degrees for 12-14 minutes, or until browned and crispy on the top.