Thyme Focaccia with Kalamata Mascarpone Spread

by The Gilded Fork

Post image for Thyme Focaccia with Kalamata Mascarpone Spread

The rich, smooth taste of the mascarpone blends delightfully  with the tangy kalamata olives and thyme creating a deliciously creamy combination to savor.  This focaccia recipe is highly adaptable, and can be flavored with any herb, fresh or dried.  We have included other mascarpone spread variations below.

8 servings

Ingredients

For the dough:
1 cup water
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
¼ cup olive oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste

For the topping:
1 cup mascarpone cheese
4 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup kalamata olives, chopped
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt

Preparation

Prepare the dough:
Sprinkle yeast over warm water in mixing bowl; stir until dissolved. Add salt, sugar, thyme, oil and half the flour. Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Gradually add remaining flour, mixing with your hands until the dough is stiff enough to leave the side of the bowl. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board. Cover with a bowl; let rest 10 minutes. Knead 8 to 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.

[Chef’s Note: If you have a stand mixer, follow the same instructions as above, adding your ingredients directly to the mixing bowl, and using the dough hook for mixing and kneading.]

Place dough in a lightly greased medium bowl; turn dough so greased side is facing up. Cover with a clean towel and let rise in a warm place (85°F) free from drafts, until double in bulk, about 1 hour.

[Chef’s Note: A good place to let the dough rise is in the oven with the heat off. Preheat the oven at 250°F for about 5 minutes and turn off.]

When two fingers poked into the dough leave indentations, rising is sufficient. Knead dough 3 to 5 minutes.

Shape the focaccia:
Preheat oven to 450° F. Grease a jellyroll pan with olive oil or spray it with cooking spray. After dough has risen once, roll or hand stretch the dough into a rectangle so that it will completely cover the bottom of the pan. Cover the pan with a towel and let the dough rise a second time in a warm place for about 30 minutes. While the dough is rising, prepare the topping.

Prepare the mascarpone topping:
Mix together mascarpone, fresh chopped thyme, garlic, kalamata olives, black pepper and sea salt. Mix to blend well. Cover and set aside in refrigerator until serving.

After dough has risen, prick several times with a fork and brush with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool.

[Chef’s Note: This focaccia and toppings can be prepared ahead of time and plated just before serving.]

Service

When ready to serve, cut focaccia into 8 squares. Spread mascarpone mixture over top and garnish with additional thyme leaves and chopped olives.

Variations
The focaccia serves as a lovely base for many flavor combinations, so don’t be afraid to experiment. In addition to the variations below, you may also try mixing the mascarpone with smoked trout, or replacing the thyme in the recipe with rosemary and topping it with prosciutto.

Dill and Smoked Salmon

1 cup mascarpone cheese
4 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
1 tablespoon red onion, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
8 ounces smoked salmon slices
3 tablespoons capers, drained

Mix together mascarpone, fresh chopped dill, red onion and sea salt. Blend well. Cover and set aside in refrigerator until service.

For service, cut focaccia into squares and spread with the mascarpone mixture. Top with capers and a slice of smoked salmon.

Sundried Tomato and Basil

1 cup mascarpone cheese
4 tablespoons sundried tomatoes in oil, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

Mix together mascarpone, chopped tomatoes, garlic, basil and sea salt. Blend well. Cover and set aside in refrigerator until service.

For service, cut focaccia into squares and spread with the mascarpone mixture.
Recipe and photos by Lia Soscia

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