My Apple, Cheddar, and Fig Focaccia is topped with iconic flavors of the season: figs, apples, cheddar and rosemary ~ it’s a perfect fall cheese plate meets crusty bread! Make this super easy focaccia the centerpiece of your next fall grazing table.
*This post is sponsored by the Valley Fig Growers. They grew the gorgeous juicy dried mission and golden figs I used in my focaccia recipe right here in California.
The onset of Fall makes me want to bake bread. The urge goes dormant all spring and summer, and then, like clockwork, pops back up right about now (it hit me hard this week, the other night I ordered a sack of flour on Amazon Prime.) I’m going to lean into bread baking with the easiest of all recipes, the instant gratification of the bread world…focaccia. And not just any focaccia, this epic bread is topped with thin sliced Honeycrisp apples, plump Orchard Choice or Sun Maid dried figs, buttery cheddar cheese, and fresh rosemary. Hello Fall!
Don’t stress out if you missed fresh fig season, it’s here and gone in a flash so don’t feel bad. When the fig cravings hit and there’s none to be found, thank goodness for these packs of plump juicy dried figs…they even come in both Mission and Golden varieties so I don’t have to choose. Mission figs are the deep dark earthy ones, while the golden Calymyrna figs are paler and more delicately flavored. I made one focaccia with each because I couldn’t decide. Both add just the right touch of natural sweetness to the bread.
Have you noticed how dried fruit has changed in the past few years? The market has exploded, there are so many new varieties. But most importantly to me, the fruit is much moister and plumper than it used to be. The experience is more like biting into a ripe fig than a piece of fruit leather. Yay for progress!
- Are dried figs good for you? They sure are, dried figs are really good source of fiber, with tons of essential minerals such as potassium, iron and calcium. They’re full of antioxidants and complex carbohydrates (the good kind.)
- Do dried figs contain added sugar? No, good quality dried figs should not contain added sugar, check your labels. A dried fig is high in natural sugar, but only about 20 calories each, so a handful of 5 is a good snack.
- Can eating figs help with constipation? Yes, figs are high in fiber which does help!
- Can figs help me lose weight? If you substitute a handful for less healthy snacks then yes, figs will satisfy you longer and curb your cravings.
other ways to use dried figs
- sliced or quartered in salads ~ I use them in my Harvest Salad with Pomegranate Allspice Dressing
- baked up in quick breads, use in place of dates or prunes. See them in my Paleo Fruit and Nut Bread
- in Middle Eastern recipes like my Persian Jeweled Rice
- on a cheese plate
- in granola
- for snacking ~ stash them in your work tote or lunch bag
- visit the Valley Fig Growers website for lots of great recipes using dried figs
When I entertain, even if it’s for just a couple of friends, I’m always super organized and work out everything ahead of time. Actually I’m a little ocd about it, if I’m honest. I can’t relax until everything is set up and the food is like, 99% done. In other words, I’m not the spontaneous type :)
But I will say that my method results in some very relaxed gatherings. I made this Apple Cheddar and Fig Focaccia as the centerpiece for a casual fall get together. I set out a big pot of soup, and a salad and let people go at it on their own schedule. It’s a perfect setup when people are caught up in watching a game and don’t want to miss anything. During commercials the grazing board gets crowded but that’s ok because I’m prepared…the bread is sliced, the soup bowls are stacked, and the drinks are poured.
How to make no knead focaccia bread
Focaccia may just be the easiest bread recipe, and it’s one worth mastering because there are endless ways you can vary it up, and it makes the best sidekick to almost any meal.
- Make sure your yeast is fresh and your water is at the correct (105-110F) temp.
- Mix the dough gently and then pop it in an oiled bowl (so the dough doesn’t stick)
- Let it rise in a warm place, ideally somewhere where it’s about 80F.
- Line a baking sheet and dump out the dough. Nudge it into a large rectangle with your oiled fingers.
- Cover and let rest in a warm place for 30 minutes.
- Dip your finger in olive oil and make dimples all over the surface of the dough.
- Arrange your toppings, drizzle more oil, and bake for about 35 minutes until golden.
Those little olive oil dimples make the bread moist, flavorful, and crunchy as it bakes up.
The flavors in this bread are wonderful, but it’s also about the play of textures…there’s the soft juicy apples, the chewy dried figs, and of course the bread itself which is nice and crusty on the outside, soft and plush inside. The figs add a nice touch of subtle sweetness and concentrated flavor.
Apple, Cheddar, and Fig Focaccia
- a baking sheet
- parchment paper or a silicone mat
- 2 tsp dry yeast (one packet or 1/4 ounce) be sure it's fresh!
- 2 cups warm water (105-110F)
- 2 tsp table salt
- 4 cups all-purpose or bread flour, I usually use all-purpose
- extra virgin olive oil, about 1/4 cup plus extra for oiling the bowl
- 2 small apples
- lemon juice (for soaking the apples)
- 6 ounce package of Sun Maid Golden Figs or Orchard Choice Mission Figs
- 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- approximately 2 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves ~ do not use dried!
- kosher or sea salt for sprinkling over the top
- Mix the yeast and warm water in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the salt and 2 cups of the flour and mix into a soft sticky dough.
- Add the remaining 2 cups of flour and mix well, the dough will still be sticky and ragged.
- Oil a clean bowl and transfer the dough to the oiled bowl. Cover with plastic and let sit in a warm spot for one and a half hours.
- Preheat the oven to 425F
- Turn the risen dough out onto a baking sheet lined with a silpat mat, or parchment paper. Press it out gently with oiled fingers to fit the pan. Don't worry if you can't get it quite that large, you can fix that later. Cover loosely with plastic and let sit in a warm place for 30 minutes. You can also cover the dough with another baking sheet, which works well since plastic can sometimes stick to the top of the dough.
- While the dough is resting, prepare your toppings. Slice the apples into thin rounds and soak in lemon water to prevent browning. Slice the figs.
- Using your fingers, dip them into the olive oil and then make little dimples all over the dough. The oil will pool in the little indentations. Don't skimp here, that oil will flavor the dough and give it great texture as it bakes, too. Take this opportunity to nudge the dough to the edges of the pan, and ensure that it's of even thickness across.
- Sprinkle the cheese over the dough, then half of the rosemary. Top with the apple slices and figs, overlapping the apples slightly. Shower lightly with sea salt and then drizzle olive oil over the apples. I like to use a brush to brush it over the surface of the apples.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes or until golden. Rotate the pan once during cooking.
- Drizzle with more oil, and shower with a little more sea salt. Sprinkle on the remaining rosemary and serve!