Sour Cherry and Rosemary No-Knead Focaccia
After a couple weeks of enjoying Californian cherries, the New York cherry season is finally upon us. Last week, we headed upstate to inaugurate our annual fruit picking craze. (Last fall E brought home almost 20 pounds of apples and 10 pounds of blackberries)
Cherries are probably one of my favourite fruits, perhaps because of its rarity due to a short season, but also because they're just so cute-looking. They grow on rather skinny trees, and favour short pickers that are able to duck under and find them under lush layers of leaves. It's not exactly backbreaking, but we finally understood what "to cherry pick" means after a few hours of crouching. By the end of the morning, our buckets were overflowing with dark cherries, sour cherries, and my favourite, rainer cherries.
To celebrate the fruits of our labour, I put together this cherry splattered focaccia. With this warm and humid weather, no-knead dough is an obvious pick, which is light on elbow grease as well as the a/c bill. The dough gets a golden crunchy bottom from "oven frying" in a peppery olive oil, interspersed with jammy cherries and charred rosemary spines.
I love baking with dark cherries, cooking with sour cherries and enjoying rainer cherries fresh. This sweet-savoury bread works best with sour cherries, but if you're not a big fan of tart cherries, feel free to sprinkle some demerara sugar or a drizzle of honey before baking. My low sugar regime veers away from this step, but we did enjoy the bread with some lemon grilled halloumi with mild blossom honey.
This week we are off to Utah for a hiking trip, but I put aside some time before the flight to pit and freeze the rest of our cherries. What should I make with these sweet morsels sitting in the freezer?
Allowing the dough to rest overnight eliminates the need for any kneading
High temperatures give an oven spring which leads to better internal structure and a crunchy crust
I used whole cherries. If you want to avoid chipping your teeth, pit and de-stem cherries before spreading them on the dough
Sour Cherry and Rosemary No-Knead Focaccia
Adapted from Serious Eats.
500g bread flour
15g kosher salt
4g instant yeast
325 grams lukewarm water
¼ cup olive oil, divided
½ cup sour cherries
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, very roughly chopped
Flaky sea salt
1 tbsp demerara sugar, optional
Combine flour, salt, yeast, and water in a large bowl to allow for rising. Mix with a wooden spoon until no dry flour remains. The dough should be homogenous but a bit scraggy.
Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. When the dough rises to the rim of the bowl, it is ready.
Sprinkle the top of the dough lightly with flour and transfer it to a lightly-floured work surface. Using a bench scraper and your hands, form into a ball by rotating and tucking the dough underneath itself, until it forms a tight ball.
Pour half of the oil in the bottom of a 12-inch cast iron skillet or a dark coloured baking tray. Transfer the dough to your choice of pan, and move it around to coat in oil, seam-side-down. Using your palm, flatten and spread the dough around while spreading the oil around the bottom and edges of the pan. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rest at room temperature for another 2 hours. One hour into the resting period, preheat the oven to 550°F.
When the dough is well rested and is risen to mostly fill the pan up to the edge, use your fingertips to make indents all over the surface, popping any large bubbles while you're at it. Make sure to check the underneath of the dough, any air bubbles left will lead to an uneven bake. Scatter the cherries all over the surface and gently press down to embed slightly. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary and sugar, if using.
Bake in the oven for 16 to 24 minutes, until the top is golden brown and bubbly and the bottom is golden brown and crisp when you lift it with a thin spatula. Loosen with the spatula and release from the pan. Transfer to a cutting board and allow to cool slightly. Slice into squares and serve. Extra bread should be stored in a brown paper bag at room temperature for up to 2 days. Reheat in a 300°F oven for about 10 minutes before serving.