Last week, the NY Times published an article “Your Contribution to the California Drought” which displays the water footprint of various foods. Since California exports 50% of its produce nationwide, Super Sous and I have been developing Drought Friendly Recipes as a way for all of us to conserve California water. We are using the same sources as this NY Times article references, the Water Footprint Organization and studies from UC Davis. We are aiming to create recipes that have a lower water footprint relative to others. So, for example, fruit and vegetable centric recipes which stay clear of animal protein (except wild fish) and nuts.
Today’s recipe is an Herby White Sweet Potato Foccacia. It’s definitely a weekend project recipe. It’s not a 15 minute meal, but I can guarantee that it is fluffy, light, sweet, and everything you would ever want in a piece of focaccia, especially since it’s slathered with caramelized onions, garlic and fresh herbs.
Enjoy and save a piece (or two) for us!
Herby White Sweet Potato Foccacia
Yields: 1 18×13-inch sheet pan of foccacia
1½ pounds white sweet potato
5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
2 cups warm water (115 degrees Fahrenheit)
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon dry active yeast
6 cups bread flour, plus more as needed
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
¼ cup grapeseed oil, divided
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and diced small (4 cups)
20 large cloves garlic, peeled and rough chopped (½ cup)
¼ cup fresh rosemary leaves, rough chopped
¼ cup fresh thyme leaves, rough chopped
¼ cup fresh oregano leaves, rough chopped
Adjust an oven rack to the upper middle position and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place ¼ cup of kosher salt in a pile in the center of a sheet tray and rest the sweet potato on top of the salt mound.
Place sheet tray in the oven and roast sweet potato for 2 hours.
Remove sheet tray from the oven. When the sweet potato is cool enough to handle, slice the sweet potato in half and scoop out flesh to fill 1½ packed cups roasted sweet potato. (Enjoy any leftover sweet potato as a delicious snack!)
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add warm water and sugar. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Add yeast and stir to combine. Let rest for 15 minutes, until mixture gets very foamy.
Add 1½ cups packed (warm, but not hot!) sweet potato, flour, 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper to the bowl.
Spray the hook attachment with nonstick spray to coat and attach to mixer.
Mix on low for 5 minutes. Check on dough at this point. Scrape down sides of bowl if necessary. If dough is wet, add additional flour, 2 tablespoons at a time, until the flour absorbs the excess moisture. Mix for an additional 5 minutes until a smooth ball is formed. (Photo below)
In a large bowl, add 1 tablespoon of oil to coat the inside of the bowl. Transfer dough ball from stand mixer to the large oiled bowl and roll the doll around to coat the dough evenly with oil.
Cover the large bowl with plastic wrap and put the bowl in a warm place in your house. Let rest until the dough ball doubles in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
While bread is rising, make the onion garlic topping mixture.
Place a medium (3½ quart) sauce pan over medium-low heat and add 2 tablespoons oil, onion and 1½ teaspoons salt. Stir to combine and cover with a lid. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, until the onions are soft.
Remove lid and add garlic, chopped herbs and remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper. Stir and cook for an additional 5 to 8 minutes, until all the water evaporates and the onions start to caramelize. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
Evenly coat the bottom and sides of an 18×13-inch sheet tray with remaining 1 tablespoon of oil.
Lightly dust a work space with some flour. Turn dough out onto workspace. Gently stretch the dough into a rectangular shape. (Photo below)
Transfer the rectangular dough into the oiled sheet tray. Using your fingertips, gently spread dough evenly to fill the sheet tray. Let rest, uncovered, for 20 minutes. (Photo below)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Evenly sprinkle remaining ½ teaspoon salt over the dough.
Spread the onion / garlic / herb mixture evenly over the dough. Dot/ firmly press your fingertips into the entire surface of the dough to create small “potholes” in the dough. (Evenly space the “potholes” throughout the dough, about 1-inch apart from each other.)
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the edges of the bread are golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.