Thursday, 17 December 2009

Honey Oat Roasted Pears and Cornmeal Fig Focaccia

I write and putter best at night. I love the hush of the house after eleven, when hubby has fallen asleep and the pups are snoozing, occasionally quietly checking in on me between power naps.
This is my time. I get little things done, work on the computer, read... and fall asleep around 1am. Sounds ok, right? Did I mention that I get up at 4:45am with my commuter? To say that I am groggy would be an understatement, but I do get up and we have our coffee and breakie together. He is gone for long days and it counts as a good part of our time together. Most of the time we have cereal. I have high hopes of making something nice in the morning but when I actually fall out of bed I resemble something quite like Frankenstein's monster. Only not quite as cute. Hubby will give me a big hug when I surface, and I will say "Murrrrhhh" That is about all I can muster at such an hour. He doesn't mind, he makes me a double espresso and we have cereal together. Sometimes he makes eggs or we have some sort of leftover baked goods, but my family understands that, while I love to make breakfast - I would rather make it at noon.

Feeling a little guilty over our fifth day of Special K in a row, I decided to go ahead and make a nice breakie. At night.
I baked up a pan of Cornmeal and Fig Focaccia and prepped this recipe for Anna Olson's Honey Oat Roasted Pears. All the night before. I left the pan of stuffed pears in the fridge with plastic over them and instructions on the counter. The focaccia was in a cake dome on the same counter. When I awoke at the ungodly hour mentioned before, it was to the scent of pears heating up in the counter-top oven. Brilliant!

These baked pears were absolutely delicious. I cut the sugar in half and even omitted the honey as they were fairly ripe and sweet. I was surprised how well they stayed in the fridge cut open like that but I guess the brushing with the melted butter helped. I served them with a big dollop of plain yogurt, but they would also be nice for dessert with some good vanilla bean ice cream. Click here for the recipe, from Anna Olson's Food Network Canada show and new cookbook, Fresh. My review of the book is here.

Cornmeal Focaccia with Figs
Focaccia, Carol Field
recipe sourced from Baking Obsession here
(Check hers out, it actually looks much better than mine!)

Makes one, 10 ½ x 15 ½-inch focaccia; serves about 8


  • 8 oz dried figs, preferably Calmyrna
  • 1 ½ cups water, room temperature
  • 2 ½ tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup plus 2 tsp cornmeal
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp turbinado or demerara sugar

Soak the figs in the water for 30 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 1/3 cups of the water, and coarsely chop the figs. Warm the reserved water to 105 to 115 F. Sprinkle the yeast over the warmed fig water in a bowl of stand mixer, whisk it in, and let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in 2 tbsp olive oil. In another bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, and salt and add the mixture in 2 additions to the yeast mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until a dough is formed. Place the bowl onto the stand mixer base and knead with a dough hook for about 4 minutes, or until the dough is firm and slightly sticky.

Note: if you don’t have the stand mixer you can knead the dough by hand, for about 8-10 minutes.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover it tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

On a lightly floured work surface, flatten the dough into a 7-8 x 14-inch rectangle. Distribute three quarters of the figs over the dough, leaving a 1-inch margin around the edges. Fold in all the sides and roll the dough into a cylinder. Place in an oiled

10 ½ x 15 ½ -inch baking pan and flatten with the palm of your hand, being careful to keep the figs from poking through the skin of the dough. Press gently on the surface to stretch the dough to fit the bottom of the pan and, when it resists, cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Stretch the dough again until it reaches the edges of the pan. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and a towel and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

At least 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 400 F with a baking stone inside, if you have one. Dimple the dough lightly with your fingertips, drizzle with 2 tbsp of olive oil, dot the remaining figs over the top, and sprinkle with the sugar. Place the pan directly on the stone and bake until the focaccia is golden, about 20-25 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The focaccia is best served the day it’s baked.

Oh, and if you are worried about me and my lack of sleep? I nap with the pups by late morning. Hey, if it's good enough for them...