Gourds are becoming more of a mainstay at the market and, after much denial on my part, my sweaters are inevitably getting thicker. This past weekend I packed up for the the Big Harvest Potluck where I spent my time spent eating, drinking, laughing, facing my fear of heights, and taking in inspiration from all possible realms. One form of inspiration came in the way of food. At the final conference dinner, I ate a gluten-free focaccia lovingly prepared by the folks from Smith Bites. Perfectly chewy with a light and delicate crumb, it had me at hello. Well, you know what I mean.
I suppose I could have just asked them for the recipe, but because patience is not one of my better virtues, I was looking for an immediate reward. No holds barred, I spent the day testing 3 different recipes with the goal of finding one most reminiscent of the Smith Bites focaccia. And thank god this mission was successful because the withdrawal symptoms were rough! My version of this simple, quick dimple-y bread gets topped with sweet roasted pumpkin and salty olives or feta, making it very well suited to the season. Your thanksgiving bread is served.
Rosemary + Roasted Pumpkin Focaccia Bread adapted from Gems of Gluten-Free Baking
Time: 30 minutes active, 1 hour and 5 minutes total
Notes: This makes a moist and chewy focaccia that is both vegan and gluten-free. Feel free to top with herbs and/or vegetables of your choice (e.g., sundered tomatoes and italian herbs; caramelized onions; mushrooms, onions, and herbs de provence). This recipe uses a gluten-free blend of flours that you’ll make yourself. If the idea of buying multiple flours scares you, you’ll be happy to know that this blend can be used in all kinds of other gluten-free baking recipes for cookies, muffins, cakes, and breads. Store in the fridge for optimal freshness.
1¾ of gluten-free flour +blend (see below)
1 tbsp instant yeast
1.5 tsp sugar
¾ tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground flax seed
1.5 tbsp finely minced, fresh rosemary
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1¼ cups lukewarm water
Oil for greasing the pan
Cornmeal for sprinkling on the bottom of the pan, optional
Focaccia Topping: Rosemary Roasted Pumpkin + Feta/Olives
½ small kabocha squash, pumpkin, or butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes about 1-2cm x 1-2cm (about 3.5 cups). I used kabocha for the photos.
1 tbsp grape seed oil
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, divided
Salt and pepper
Olive oil, for brushing
2 tbsp pitted, chopped niçoiseor kalamata olives OR ¼ cup feta cheese cubes (1-2cm x 1-2cm)
Maldon salt, for sprinkling
Gluten-free Flour Blend*
2¾ cups brown rice flour
⅔ cup sweet white sorghum flour
⅓ cup amaranth flour (can sub oat flour)
3 tbsp chickpea flour (also known as besan)
*If you’re worried about buying a lot of flours and never using them again, don’t fret! You can also use this for other gluten-free baking projects that call for GF flour. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to add a binder like xanthan gum, ground flax or chia seed, or psyllium.
Preheat oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the cubed squash or pumpkin with the grape seed oil and 1 sprig worth of rosemary leaves. Spread the squash/pumpkin out evenly on the baking tray a sprinkle with pepper and a generous pinch of salt. Roast in the oven until just tender, about 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, lightly grease an 8-inch round or square cake pan and sprinkle the bottom with cornmeal. You can also use parchment, if you prefer.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the gluten-free flour blend, yeast, sugar, sea salt, ground flax, and minced rosemary.
In a small pan over medium-low heat, gently sweat the garlic until aromatic. Remove from the heat, cool for a moment, then add the water to the pan and stir to combine. Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and stir to obtain a thick, creamy mixture.
Pour the mixture onto the prepared pan. Moisten your index fingers and press dimple-like indentations into the bread, a couple of inches apart from one another. Sprinkle with the cooled roasted pumpkin/squash, olives or feta, and a scatter of fresh rosemary leaves.
Set aside in a draft-free area to rise for 30 minutes.
Bake on the middle rack for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush generously with olive oil. Return to the oven and bake for 5-15 more minutes, or until golden on the outside and no longer gooey on the inside. It will still be moist. If it hasn’t browned well enough, simply put it under the broiler for about a minute for some of that golden colour.
Let it cool for about 5 minutes then gently take it out of the pan with a spatula and place on a wire rack to cool further. Sprinkle with maldon salt as its cooling.