I made this Goat Cheese, Grape and Rosemary Focaccia as a test-drive for a holiday party appetizer, and it totally knocked my socks off. I’m going to cut it in small squares and serve it warm as finger-food with Christmas cocktails.
The grapes soften and their sweetness intensifies beautifully in the heat. They’re wonderfully complemented by salty-tangy, soft goat cheese and finely minced rosemary. The focaccia itself is brushed generously with olive oil and honey, yielding a super-soft, flavourful bread.
For the base, I adapted the Beginner’s Focaccia recipe from the Fleischmann’s® Yeast website, and I was really pleasantly surprised! It is stirred, not kneaded, and only requires a 30 minute rest – I had my fingers crossed that “quick and easy” wouldn’t compromise the end result. Happily, it didn’t – and it actually exceeded my hopes, it is really good! I’m going to be making it on a regular basis for sure.
You’ll need the usual bread-baking suspects, plus juicy red grapes, soft goat cheese, a sprig or two of rosemary, good olive oil and honey.
The method couldn’t be easier – the yeast* is combined with the flour along with the salt in a bowl. Water, honey and olive oil are warmed together to 120º-130ºF (save yourself the guesswork and use a thermometer) before being stirred into the dry ingredients. No kneading!
*Pictured above is the Fleischmann’s® Quick-Rise Instant Yeast we have in Canada, which is the same as Fleischmann’s® RapidRise Instant Yeast in the US.
Spread the (fairly wet) dough into a greased (or parchment-lined) 9×13″ baking dish, and don’t worry if it doesn’t go all the way to the edges. Time for a 30 minute rest!
Below is what it looks like after it’s risen.
Next, you poke your fingers at 1″ intervals into the dough’s surface, almost all the way to the bottom. Then you lavish it with honey and olive oil and sprinkle it evenly with all the other good things.
Into the oven, my pretty.
I love baking with yeast. There is nothing that compares to the feeling of kneading dough, or to the smell of fresh bread wafting from the oven. I worked for a flour company for a couple of years developing recipes with their products, and I got to play with it all the time – it was magical. I wanted to bottle the smell of my kitchen and sell it.
I do remember a time, though, when I was just learning to bake and was distinctly intimidated by yeast baking. Maybe because there are multiple steps, and I wasn’t 100% confident at each checkpoint whether I’d done things right. I think the best thing to do if you lack confidence is to watch videos of the process so you know what the various steps look like – kneading, rising, checking for doneness. The Fleischmann’s Yeast website has an amazing “technique video” section for that. It’ll take the guesswork right out, because it’s not actually complicated or difficult at all.
They’ve got tons of great tips and tricks in their education section for beginner and experienced bakers alike. I learned a new tip for a great rise – placing the dough on a rack set over a bowl of hot water. Genius!
This post was sponsored by ACH, but as always, all words and opinions are my own. Thank you wholeheartedly for supporting me in my collaborations with the hand-picked sponsors that keep the Foodess kitchen running!
A message from Fleischmann’s Yeast:
There’s a sense of pride in sharing something you’ve baked from scratch. With
Fleischmann’s Yeast, you won’t be afraid to find your creativity in the kitchen or even get your apron a little dirty. Baking with yeast this holiday season can be as easy as pre-heating the oven. To find out more, visit foodnetwork.com/holidaybaking.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of ACH. The opinions and text are all mine.
Goat Cheese, Red Grape and Rosemary Focaccia
- 3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 packet Fleischmann's RapidRise Yeast Fleischmann's Quick-Rise, in Canada
- 1 tsp salt
- 1-1/2 cups water
- 3 tbsp honey divided
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil divided
- 1/2 cup soft goat cheese crumbled
- 1 cup red grapes
- 1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
- Combine flour, dry yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir until blended. Combine water, 1 tablespoon honey and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 2-cup glass measuring cup or microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high in 15 second increments until very warm but not hot to the touch (120° to 130°F). Add to flour mixture. Stir with a spoon until well mixed.
- Spread into greased or parchment-lined 13 x 9-inch pan . (Don’t worry if the dough isn’t even or filling the corners.) Cover with towel; let rise in warm place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes .
- Using your lightly oiled finger, gently poke holes about every inch in the dough going nearly to the bottom of the dough. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and honey (warm the honey in the microwave for 15 seconds if thick). Evenly dollop with goat cheese, grapes and rosemary. Let rise, uncovered, an additional 15 minutes while oven preheats to 375°F.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly. Cut and serve with extra oil for dipping if you’d like.