Apple, Walnut, & Cheddar Focaccia
November 13, 2018
Hey y’all! I hope all is well. I know I havn’t exactly been present over the past month, but know that you have all been on my mind. Thank you so much for your patience and understanding with my need to take some time to myself to figure things out.
Connection Through Food
Happy November! There is no holiday that screams food as much as Thanksgiving that I can think of (Christmas may be a close second) because the very nature of this holiday (although it’s origins are sketchy) emphasizes what I’ve been preaching for the past year since I started Brad & Butter.
There are few things in this world that connects people universally, and food is one of those things. I love Thanksgiving because it gives people a chance to use food as a medium to express gratitude and love, which I think everyone can do a little more of in life.
Connection Through Experience
On my little break, I happened to have a conversation with some friends in order to pinpoint where my frustrations were coming from, and one of them gave me advice so sound it fully opened up my perspective.
Perhaps I had just been looking at everything through the wrong lens. Instead of counting my blessings, I had always been magnifying that murky, grey area that seemed to suffocate all the color & joy life brings. I should have been focusing on all the things, big or small, that have enabled me to this point in my life today.
My experiences have taught me so much about where I stand today and how I’ve gotten here. In this day and age, we take everything for granted, especially when you grew up like me having most things handed to you on a silver platter. And to be honest, there is nothing I regret more.
With experiences, come people. And when you count your blessings, not only do you make yourself aware of all the things that you’ve potentially taken for granted, but you also force yourself to appreciate the connection you have with other people. Some things you don’t realize you need until you’ve lost them, and the same goes for people. Reach out. Tell someone how much they’ve impacted your lives. Take without intention, and give with heart.
Connection Through Love
And last, but definitely not least, food is made through love, with love. The intent to provide sustenance to someone else is so deeply rooted in love and connection to other people that there are often no words to describe the emotions tied to this notion. In fact, no words are needed. I know you’ve been there at some point in your life. Everyone has, whether they realize it or not.
As we warm up towards Thanksgiving, I implore everyone to count your blessings, treasure your connections, and act with love.
For this bake, I wanted to highlight the concept commonly known as “breaking bread.”
Metaphorically, to break bread refers to two or more people coming together to make peace. I’ve always loved this phrase because it fully encompasses the power of food in relation to people, connection, and love. No group of people is perfect, and everyone will face his or her own problems. Yet, at the end of the day, we thrive most when we have each other. We thrive most when we break bread together.
This Apple, Walnut, & Cheddar Focaccia is inspired by this notion (and my current lack of parchment paper). Apple and cheddar is the classic combination that I know I can trust, and the addition of toasted walnuts brings out a whole other layer of flavor. Of course, the star of the show is the Focaccia, a perfect vehicle with the right amount of give and crunch to send bundles of flavor down the gullet. Focaccia is not only simple and easy to make, but it is also so versatile due to the simplicity of it’s ingredients. Definitely a bake worth playing around with.
If you do try this one out, let me know what you think in the comments below! In the meantime, I hope everyone is enjoying the pre-Thanksgiving buzz that’s almost palpable in the air…
Well then…shall we break bread?
Ingredients (makes about 15 slices)
For the Focaccia (adapted from Season & Suppers)
1 cup of warm water
2 tbsp. of white, granulated sugar
1 tbsp. of olive oil
2 1/4 tsp. of yeast
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of bread flour
1 tsp. of salt
For the Topping
3 apples, thinly sliced
1 cup of chopped walnuts
1 cup of grated cheddar cheese
flaky sea salt, to taste
To serve (optional)
Combine the yeast, sugar, water, and olive oil in a large mixing bowl and let stand for 10 minutes.
Add the flours and salt into the yeast mixture and mix with a spatula until a dough forms.
Knead the dough on a floured surface for approximately 10-15 minutes or until streaks of gluten are present when the dough is stretched thin and held up to a light.
Form the dough into a ball and prove in a bowl covered with cling film or a tea towel for approximately 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Take a break. You deserve it.
Transfer the dough to a parchment pan greased with olive oil and press out the dough until it covers the entire sheet pan.
Set aside and prove for another 45 minutes. to an hour, or until doubled in size.
While the dough proves, slice the apples as thin as possible, avoiding the core
Once the dough is proved, scatter the sliced apples, chopped walnuts, grated cheddar, and flaky sea salt on top.
Bake in a preheated 205C/400F degree oven for approximately 18-20 minutes. Cut into 15 rectangular slices with a sharp knife. Serve warm with honey, if desired.