Strawberry, Basil, & Goat Cheese Focaccia

This weekend has been all about getting my life in order.  The house is clean, school work is done, and roughly 40 jobs have been applied to.  I know I always say I have no clue what I want to do once I graduate IN MAY, and that is mostly true, but I've started forming some ideas - which is good, considering, you know, I have like a month left of school.  I know I want to work  with food.  I know I want to use my communications degree.  I know I want to move out of New Orleans.  I know I definitely don't want to hate whatever I'm doing.

The jobs I've applied for have been mostly in New York City.  It's definitely not my first choice of places to live - my New Orleans upbringing has made me most comfortable at about 85 degrees and 90% humidity - but it's the mecca of food publications and I'm just trying to live my dream or whatever.  I guess we'll just have to wait and see where all of this leads!  For the time being, I'm going to do my best to focus on enjoying what Louisiana has got to offer.

*turns on Duck Dynasty, buys a shotgun, eats a fried thing, calls Britney Spears, prays away the gay*

HA, kidding, I'm talking about strawberries!  They're here, again!  To celebrate their return I've created a little strawberry + basil + goat cheese mashup.  I originally thought about putting all of that into an upside down cake but when I started developing the recipe I literally got nauseous, which is basically the exact opposite of what I'm trying to do.  However, they work perfectly together in this focaccia, as it helps balance out the sweet and savory elements.  

Two Totally Non-food related notes:

  1. If you have suggestions for what I should do when I graduate, please dear Lord tell me either in the comments section or via email!
  2. If you haven't tried putting maple syrup in your iced coffee you are severely missing out and I promise it's going to brighten up your whole damn day.  


This recipe is adapted from the folks over at Saveur Magazine.

  • 2.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 t kosher salt
  • 1 T coarse sea salt (optional)
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 1/4 oz pkg yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup plus 5 T olive oil, divided 
  • 1.5 cups strawberries, cut into thin slices
  • 8 - 10 basil leaves, cut into thin strips
  • 10 oz goat cheese

Okay I know this looks like a lot of steps but really I just broke it down a bit more than I probably had to, don't be intimidated.  

  1. Whisk yeast and honey into the warm water and set aside.  Let sit for 5 - 10 minutes, until it begins bubbling.
  2. While the yeast is proofing, whisk together the flour and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Set aside until the yeast mixture is ready.
  3. Once the yeast mixture is bubbling, whisk the 1/4 cup of olive oil into it.  
  4. Add the yeast mix to the flour and, using the dough hook attachment, being mixing until well combined.  
  5. Once the dough has come together turn the speed to medium high and knead for 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. It's still going to be pretty messy and sticky, don't freak out.
  6. Coat two medium bowls with 1/2 T olive oil each.
  7. Use another 1/2 T olive oil to coat your hands.  
  8. Using your hands, separate the dough into two equal sized-balls and place each half into it's own greased bowl. 
  9. Cover the bowls with a kitchen rag or plastic wrap and let sit for one hour, until doubled in size.
  10. Once doubled in size, grease a 9x9" square pan with 1/2 T olive oil.
  11. Press one dough ball into the pan.
  12. Place most of the chopped strawberries, goat cheese, and basil on top of this dough.  Save just enough to top the next layer (the top layer) of dough with.  For this step, the goat cheese can just be broken into small chunks and placed evenly across the dough, you won't really be able to spread it well so just try to evenly distribute the chunks.  
  13. Press the other half of the dough on top of the first half, sandwiching the ingredients between the two dough halves.
  14. Spread the top dough out to make sure that all of the filling is covered.
  15. Use your fingers to make small indentations in the top of the focaccia. 
  16. Let the focaccia sit in the pan for about 30 minutes until it has risen a little more.
  17. Preheat the oven to 450* F.
  18. Top the focaccia with remaining strawberries, basil, and goat cheese chunks.  
  19. Drizzle remaining three tablespoons of olive oil on top and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of coarse sea salt.
  20. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes until slightly browned.
  21. Serve warm with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.