Peach Focaccia. I wouldn’t have thought of it!
Following the New York Times Cooking page on Facebook is a dangerous yet awesome thing. I’m inspired and often end up with an urgent need to make what they post. Cloudy Vancouver skies will push me to bake anything that looks bright and tasty, really, and that’s what happened when I saw this on my feed. On a cold summer weekday, I had hoped that the sunny peach-topped focaccia could help lift up my spirits. (And it did.)
Keeping peach focaccia to its vegan roots
Herbed focaccia is typically vegan, but this NYT recipe is not. The sweet factor opened up the possibility for dairy here, I assume. Mmm…butter. [Venetian focaccia during Easter does have dairy—milk, eggs, and butter.]
That said, we have a vegan teenager in the house, so I skipped the egg called for in the original recipe and replaced butter with Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks so she can have these. It did not taste like it needed the egg, to be honest. I also cut down on the thyme. A hint of it is fine, but I wouldn’t want to overpower the fragrant peaches.
The resulting focaccia tastes almost savoury and just the slight sweetness that’s mostly from the peaches. I did add some demerara sugar on top for a teeny bit more sweetness and crunch.
More summer fruit experiments
Would I make this again? Absolutely, vegan or not. I would try the original version with dairy butter and egg, but will stick to just a tablespoon of butter for coating the pan, instead of two. There are still a lot of different stone fruits in season and I would love to use a variety of them all on one spread before summer ends.
What could make it better? If you like it sweet, you can a tablespoon or more sugar in the dough. Cinnamon and nutmeg in the dough could also be interesting. There are so many possibilities with this bread!
Make sure to share your feedback if you make this recipe. I might go back to this later and update the recipe with notes after re-making it.
If you’re looking for another summer-y baked good to try, check out my recent obsession: Czech Blueberry Crumb Cake.
Peach Focaccia (Vegan)
- half sheet baking pan (18"x13" w/ 1" lip)
- stand mixer with dough hook attachment (optional, if you don't want to work the dough by hand)
- 1 ½ cups warm water
- 2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 75 grams or 6 tablespoons granulated sugar 1 tbsp for the yeast, 3 tbsp for the dough, 2 tbsp for the peaches
- 95 grams or 7 tablespoons unsalted butter melted; 60 grams or 4 tbsp for the dough, 15 grams or 1 tbsp to coat the baking pan, and 30 gram to brush over the baked focaccia.
- 515 grams or 3 3/4 cups bread flour Canadian unbleached AP flour works well, too, thanks to its high protein content
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
- 2 large ripe peaches or other stone fruits, around 350 grams of flesh peeled, pitted and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick wedges
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves stems removed
- 1 tablespoon demerara sugar or any coarse sugar optional; adds a nice crunch on top of the bread
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the warm water, yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
- Add flour, salt, egg, 3 tablesppons sugar and 60 grams (4 tablespoons) melted butter in the stand mixer bowl and mix at low speed for about 5 - 7 minutes, depending on room humidity. Make sure to pause the mixer a couple of times to scrape the sides and bottom. Dough should be smooth and will bounce back when pressed with a finger; the sides of the bowl will be almost clean. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap or clean kitchen towel and place in a warm, draft-free area until it doubles in size, about half an hour. An oven that has not been turned on will be a good spot for this.
- Once doubled in size, gently punch down the dough and scrape the sides and bottom. Cover again and let it rise again for another 30 minutes.
- Pre-heat the oven to 400°F. Using a pastry brush, spread 15 grams (1 tablespoon) of melted butter on the rimmed baking sheet. Transfer the dough onto the prepared sheet and use your fingers to press and stretch the dough into a large oval or rectangle, about 10-by-15 inches. Leave the dough to rise in a warm spot, uncovered on the pan, for 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, toss the peaches with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and the thyme leaves.
- Use your fingers to make indentations on the dough for placing the peach slices. Gently push each peach slice on the dough, and avoiding any extra liquid from the fruit in the bowl. Sprinkle demerara sugar evenly on top, then bake for 20 minutes until it's puffed and starts to turn golden brown. , puffed and set, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Take out of the oven and brush the remaining 30 grams (2 tablespoons) of melted butter over the bread and fruit. Place in the oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
- Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes before transferring into a cutting board for slicing. Serve warm.