Bring some Mediterranean sunshine to your day with Sunflower Seed Pull-Apart Focaccia!
It’s already time for another coffee cake recipe from The Home Bakers! Yes, I know I just shared the Milk Chocolate-Walnut Coffee Cake last week, but I joined in that bake late and now I’m right on time. This month’s bake is Sunflower Seed Pull-Apart Focaccia. Strictly speaking, this is not a coffee cake at all. The author of the book we are baking from categorizes it as a “savory picnic cake” which is somewhat accurate but to me, this is really bread and not cake. I’m totally fine with that because we have downed more desserts than appropriate lately with all my blogging and Valentine’s Day baking.
This focaccia reminds me of my vacations to the Mediterranean. The sunflower seeds and sunflower shape remind me of Vincent Van Gogh’s sunflower paintings and my visit to the south of France. The olive oil and the olives recommended in the original recipe bring back memories of my visit to Greece. I could totally picture enjoying this focaccia with a meal at a taverna in Mykonos or Santorini.
As with many breads, there is a little bit of delayed gratification, while waiting for the dough to rise and such, but most of that time is hands off, allowing me to catch up on washing dishes and get started on cooking or baking other foods. It starts off like most bread recipes, with allowing the yeast to bloom in warm water. I then used the paddle attachment of my stand mixer to add in honey, olive oil, and dried rosemary, then switched to the dough hook to knead in all-purpose flour little by little. I added in the 3 1/4 cups of flour recommended in the original recipe, however found that my dough was very loose and sticky, so I ended up kneading in an extra cup of flour to turn my dough into a smooth elastic ball.
I let it rise for an hour and a half and was pleased that it more than doubled in size, since my kitchen was a bit cold. After punching it down, I rolled it out on my counter and stretched it to fit onto my pizza pan, which is about 13 inches in diameter. I cut out a circle in the center and then cut the rest into 16 “petals.”
I was a bit confused by the instruction to “twist each cut strip over and lay it flat” but ultimately just flipped each petal over. I think it allows more separation so that when the dough rises again it is still distinct enough that the pieces can be easily pulled apart after baking.
I decorated my petals with grapes since I’m not a huge olive fan and let the dough rise. Honestly it rose for a few hours instead of the recommended 45 minutes because I had to go out on some errands mid-bake but it wasn’t a problem at all. I baked the bread for 20 minutes at 425F until it became golden brown. It was delicious. The grapes added just the right amount of sweetness to an otherwise savory bread. If I make this focaccia again, I’d probably add a touch of sea salt on top since I really enjoy that flavor and texture on focaccia but was great without that too. We enjoyed it again for breakfast.
This is a beautiful and tasty focaccia to serve at a wine tasting party or with a Mediterranean style dinner. Or just because. I really don’t need a reason to eat bread!
Sunflower Seed Pull-Apart Focaccia (adapted from Coffee Cakes)
Yield: 1 large loaf (16 slices)
1 package active dry used (2 1/4 teaspoons if you are using a jar of yeast)
1/4 cup warm tap water
drop of honey
1 1/4 cups room temperature water
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus more for brushing
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (may need more if the dough is too sticky as well as to coat the work surface)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon aniseed or minced fresh rosemary (I used 1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
2 dozen oil-cured black olives, pitted or seedless red grapes (I used grapes)
Please see Kitchen Flavours for the full directions for this recipe.
My additional notes:
- If the dough is very sticky after adding in all the flour, add more little by little. The dough should be smooth and elastic before the first rise.
Check out The Home Bakers and see other interpretations of Sunflower Seed Pull-Apart Focaccia!