This twist on focaccia transforms the classic Italian bread into a chocolate orange sweet bread. Try my sweet focaccia for a tea time treat or a fun new brunch bake.
Making Sweet Dessert Focaccia
What is Focaccia
Focaccia is a traditional Italian yeasted bread. It is usually a savoury snack topped with salt, herbs and other complimentary ingredients such as olives or peppers. It is most notable for its dimpled appearance.
One of the key elements of a focaccia is its high liquid content. The dough is very sticky from a significant amount of water and olive oil.
Sweet Flavour Pairings for Olive Oil
Olive oil is central to focaccia - both as flavour and an ingredient. Therefore, to transform this traditionally savoury bread into a sweet, it is necessary to pair olive oil with complimentary dessert flavours.
Despite being associated with savoury dishes, olive oil is actually a great pairing with many sweet ingredients. You can find many recipes for olive oil cakes and it is increasingly seen as a healthier alternative to butter. In particular, olive oil works very nicely with chocolate and with orange.
- Strong white bread flour
- Dry active yeast
- Salt - both standard cooking salt and also some flaked sea salt.
- Olive oil
- Water - warm, recently boiled but not super hot.
- Orange - you'll need both the zest and juice.
- Chocolate chips - about
- Mixed peel or candied orange peel.
Process for Making Sweet Focaccia
Focaccia is actually a really simple bread to make at home - it requires relatively short proofs, few steps and is fairly forgiving to the home baker.
The first step is to make your liquid mixture. For this chocolate orange focaccia, we incorporate orange juice straight into the bread dough with the water. In order to do this, juice your orange, adding the juice to a jug and topping up with the warm water.
This should be lukewarm. The ideal temperature (if you fancy measuring this), should be about 104°F/40C.
Once the liquid is at a decent temperature, place the flour in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the salt to one side and the yeast to the other side - this initial separation is beneficial to keeping the yeast active.
Give the dry ingredients a stir. Then, add a tablespoon of oil, the orange zest and about three quarters of the orange water. Turn the mixer to a medium low setting and knead. Continue to add the liquid slowly until a sticky dough forms (you may not need quite all of the water).
Keep the mixer on a low medium setting, kneading the dough for a further 10 minutes until it is pulling itself away from the sides of the bowl. Then, transfer to a clean bowl and cover with cling film. Set somewhere warm to proof for 1 hour until doubled in size.
While the dough proofs, use a little olive oil to grease a quarter sheet pan or similar shallow lipped baking dish.
Shaping Focaccia and Second Proof
After the hour, knock your dough back and stretch gently to fill the baking tin. Cover again and proof for a second time for another hour on the countertop.
Preheat the oven to 425°F (220C/200C Fan) - you want a high heat to help give a nice golden finish while the centre stays soft.
Dimpling Focaccia and Baking
Following the second proof, use your fingertips to create dimples across the surface of the dough. This is done by pressing at irregular intervals with your fingers all across the surface of the focaccia dough.
Lightly whisk together 1 tablespoon of olive oil with a teaspoon of water and drizzle over the dough. Then sprinkle chocolate chips, flaked sea salt and candied orange rind. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until golden.
FAQs for Sweet Focaccia
Focaccia can be served warm or cold. This dessert focaccia is great fresh from the oven or after cooling to room temperature.
Focaccia is best fresh on the day it is made, but leftovers will keep for a day or so well wrapped. If you intend to make in advance it is best to freeze.
Yes, sweet focaccia can be frozen. After baking allow to cool to room temperature first. Then wrap well in cling film and place in a freezer bag. This can be frozen for up to three months. Defrost before consuming. This can be heated in the oven to rewarm.
If you like this recipe, check out these other bread ideas:
Chocolate Orange Sweet Focaccia
- 2 cups strong white bread flour
- 1¼ teaspoon dry active yeast
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 fresh orange, both juice and zest
- ¾ cup water, recently boiled
- handful chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoon mixed candied peel or candied orange rind
- 1 teaspoon flaked sea salt
- Add the juice of one orange and the water to a small jug. Check the temperature - the goal is for this liquid mixture to be lukewarm (about 104°F/40C).
- Place the flour in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the salt to one side and the yeast to the opposite side, keeping these separate until mixing. Give the dry ingredients a stir.
- Pour 1 tablespoon of the olive oil into the flour, immediately followed by the zest and three quarters of the warm orange and water. Begin kneading on medium low and slowly add in more water until a sticky dough forms. You may not need all of the liquid.
- Continue kneading for about 10 minutes until the dough is pulling itself off the sides of the bowl.
- Then transfer the dough to a clean bowl and cover in cling film. Place in a warm place to proof for 1 hour until doubled in size.
- Meanwhile, use a small amount of oil to grease a small quarter sheet pan or other shallow lipped baking sheet.
- Once doubled in size, lightly knock the dough back and turn it out into the oil pan. Gently stretch the dough to the sides of the pan. Cover and allow to proof for another hour.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F (220C/200C Fan) and whisk together the remaining tablespoon of oil with a teaspoon of water.
- After the second proof, press your fingertips into the dough to form irregular dimples all over the top. Drizzle the oil and water over the top along with the chocolate chips, a sprinkle of flaked sea salt and 2 tablespoons of candied peel.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes until the top is golden. Remove and allow to cool slightly before slicing into squares or slices to serve.