Jun 3, 2013

Focaccia with baby beets

Very Polish and very Italian. Two traditions met in my kitchen. The lightly sweet and earthy taste of Polish Spring beets on a simple piece of light and fantastic Italian dough. I could eat this everyday.

The first time I made it, I didn't use enough beets. Again, it seemed like a lot when they were in the fridge, but on foccacia, they ended up looking like a decoration. Not bad as a side dish, but I wanted to make a wholesome lunch. 

So, the second time, I tripled the beet amount. There, I did it right. The dough wasn't impressed at all by the vegetable on top. It retained its crunchy and hard bottom, which made it fun to hold in your hand. So, I really had a feeling I was having a pizza, which I could eat everyday.

Pizza or not, this is a vegetable dish. And another idea to use veggies in my kitchen. One of my favorites.

Recipe by me
time: 30 min preparation + 2 1/2 inactive + 35 min baking

  • 1 kg (2 lbs) baby beets (small roots and green/purple leaves), washed well and chopped
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 200 g (7 oz) feta cheese
  • 500 g (3 1/3 cups) flour
  • 25 g (.9 oz) fresh yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 350 ml (1 1/2 cups) tepid water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil + more for brushing

  1. To prepare dough. In a small bowl, crumble yeast and mix it with sugar and about 50 ml (4 Tablespoons, taken from the whole amount) tepid water till all is dissolved. 
  2. In a jar, mix the rest of water with salt and oil.
  3. In a bowl of a standing mixer with a needle attachment, sift in flour. Add the yeast mix. Mix it up with your hand. Add the water mix, turn the mixer on stir and knead the dough for 10 minutes. Scrape the bottom now and then to make sure there is not dry flour. 
  4. Clean dough from the sides of the bowl with a plastic scraper. Cover the bowl with a cotton cloth and place in the oven (with a light on) for 2 hours, till dough doubles or triples in volume. Prepare a baking sheet drizzled with olive oil.
  5. To prepare beets. Meanwhile, in a large pot, heat 4 Tbs olive oil on medium/high heat. Add chopped baby beets and sauté (or cook) for about 15 minutes, till roots are tender (but not soft), mixing often. If they look to dry, add 1/2 cup of water. You can add some salt, but there is enough of it in feta to complement the beets. Set them aside.
  6. Take the dough (that has doubled) out on the oiled baking sheet and using your fingers dipped in oil, stretch it onto the whole sheet. Cover it with a cotton cloth and let it raise again for 30 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 220C/425F (fan forced function).
  8. Crumble feta cheese with your fingers and spread it on top of the dough. Top it with cooked baby beets. Place in the hot oven for 30 - 35 minutes. The last 15 minutes, I switched the oven to the bottom grill only. Foccacia is ready when golden around the edges. It burns fast, so keep an eye on the oven. Take it out and enjoy it. When hot/warm, foccacia has a crunchy bottom. When cooled, it softens. I like both versions.

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