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PULL-APART CHOCOLATE ORANGE FOCACCIA

What's not to love? The spongy and soft texture of deliciously carby focaccia--but sweet, with orange zest, vanilla, and melty chocolate inside. This focaccia is assembled in two layers so that the chocolate stays melted inside (not burned and hard on the top), and each piece pulls apart in layers, not unlike layered biscuits. This recipe is excellent for special occasions or anytime you want slow, sweet comfort food.



Notes:


PULL-APART CHOCOLATE ORANGE FOCACCIA

Ingredients: 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 packet rapid-rise yeast (.25 ounce)*, 1 1/3 cups warm water, 2 tbsp. sugar + extra, 1/4 cup olive oil + extra, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 1 tsp. salt, zest of 2 oranges, split, 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or 4 ounces chopped chocolate), 2 tbsp. butter.

Makes one 9-inch round.


1. Proof the yeast. Add your warm water and sugar to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix to combine. (Water temperature should be about 110 degrees if you have a thermometer. Otherwise, it should feel warmer than lukewarm, but not hot.) Sprinkle the packet of yeast over the top of the water, then lightly mix it in. Let it bloom (get foamy) for 5-10 minutes.


2. Knead the dough. (See tips below for kneading with hands.) Slowly add 3 1/4 cups of flour, olive oil, half of the orange zest, vanilla extract, and salt into the bowl on low speed. The dough hook is great for this, though you'll need to scrape the side of the bowl a few times. Turn up to medium-low for 5 minutes. If the dough is not pulling away from the sides and is still sticky, add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour.


3. First rise. Remove the dough to a large bowl coated with olive oil. Use your hands to shape it into a ball by pulling the sides up and over and tucking underneath. Turn the dough in the oil, then cover it with a clean dish towel. Place into a warm spot, like a sunny window, or near your oven for 2-3 hours or until doubled in size.


4. Second rise. Punch down the dough and gather it back into a ball. Split the dough in half using two forks by pulling it outward from the center. Place each ball back into oil-coated bowls and cover. Place in a warm spot for another 1-2 hours until doubled in size.


5. Assemble. Preheat the oven to 400*F. Use 1 tbsp. of softened butter to grease a 9-inch pie dish. Oil your hands, and place one of the dough balls into the dish, pressing it to the edges. Use your fingers to create dimples over the surface of the dough. Add the chocolate chips, spreading them out over the top. Lay the second piece of dough over the first, stretching to the edges. Press to seal the two rounds of dough together around the edge, then use your fingers to "dimple" again over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle the top with sugar.


6. Bake. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until bouncy and golden. Remove, and immediately brush with remaining (melted) butter. Top with remaining orange zest.


TIPS

  1. Kneading by hand: Follow step 1 using a large mixing bowl. Gradually stir in the flour, olive oil, half the orange zest, vanilla extract, and salt until a shaggy dough forms. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead by hand for 5 minutes until smooth, adding extra flour if the dough feels too sticky. Continue with the recipe in step 3.

  2. Using Active Dry yeast: If you want to do a longer rise, by using active dry yeast, the first rise will take 6-8 hours, and the second rise will take 2-3. This works well if you want to complete the first rise overnight.

  3. Using a 9x13 inch baking dish: You may use this size, considering the focaccia will be slightly thinner and denser once you've stretched it to the edges.


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