Monday, February 17, 2014

THB : Sunflower Seed Pull-Apart Focaccia

It's our bake #31, at The Home Bakers (THB). An interesting shaped focaccia which looks rather pretty with the strips of dough twisted and shaped like a big flower, with black olives studded at the end of each strip and in the center, and sunflower seeds scattered all over.

Mich has informed me that her dough was rather wet and it was difficult to work with. Thanks to Mich, I have reduced the amount of water than the recipe calls for. I started off with 3/4 cup and add on a tablespoon at a time, until the dough feels right. Total amount of water used was 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons. The dough was still slightly sticky, and from my previous bakes with other foccacia, most of the dough tend to be on the sticky side. But with a light sprinkling of flour, it helps to handle the dough easily.

The recipe has given the option of using either aniseed or rosemary. Since I have a pot of rosemary plant in my garden, I have used that instead.

This foccacia is baked in a 14-inch pizza pan. Once the dough has risen for the first time, it is rolled out to a 14-inch round. I have however used a 12-inch pizza pan since I do not have a 14-inch size.  Place the dough into the pizza pan, use a 3-inch glass to cut out a piece at the center of the dough. Using a pastry cutter, divide the dough into fourths, and into fourths again, making a total of 16 slices. Twist each strip and lay it flat. 

Brush the strips with olive oil and sprinkle some sunflower seeds all over, pressing them in lightly. Place a black olive at the end of each strip, pressing the olives down gently. Place some extra olives in the center, (to avoid the dough from being closed up during rising and baking, my guess). Cover with greased cling wrap, and leave to rise until doubled in size.

Bake in a preheated oven at 425F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove pan from oven, and with the help of a spatula, slide the bread gently onto a wire rack to cool. 

The sunflower seeds did not stay on the focaccia, most of them dropped off rather easily!

This focaccia is nice when eaten warm, with light crispy crust and soft crumbs on the inside, quite tasty eaten on its own with a cup of warm tea. But as soon as it cools down, it is not so soft anymore.

Overall, this is not the best focaccia I have made and eaten, but it is still yummy dipped in hot mushroom soup.

Sunflower Seed Pull-Apart Focaccia
(adapted from "Coffee Cakes" by Lou Seibert Pappas)
makes 1 large loaf, serves 12
1 package active dry yeast (2 tsp)
1/4 cup warm water (105 to 115F)
pinch of sugar or drop of honey
1-1/4 cups water at room temperature
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
3-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour ( I use bread flour)
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon aniseed or minced fresh rosemary
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
2 dozen oil-cured black olives, pitted, or 1/4 cup seedless red grapes

In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Add the sugar or honey, stir to dissolve, and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the room-temperature water, the 1 tablespoon honey, and the 2 tablespoon olive oil. Using a wooden spoon or a heavy-duty mixer, add 1 cup of the flour and the salt and mix until smooth. Grind the aniseed in a mortar to release the flavours, if using. Beat the aniseed or rosemary into the mixture. Beat in the remaining 2-1/4 cups flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough comes together in a loose ball.

Using a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the dough hook, or by hand on a lightly floured board, knead the dough until smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, and cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours.

Lightly oil a 14-inch pizza pan. Punch down the dough, turn out on a lightly floured board, and knead until smooth, 1 or 2 minutes. Roll the dough out into a 14-inch round and place on the pizza pan. With a glass turned upside down, cut out a 3-inch round in the center of the dough, then with a pastry scraper or knife, divide the outer circle of dough into fourths. Cut each piece into fourths again to make 16 slices. Twist each cut strip over and lay it flat. Brush the dough with olive oil and sprinkle with the sunflower seeds. Stud the end of each strip with an olive or grape and place several in the center. Cover with a tea towel and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425F. Bake the bread for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer the bread from the pan to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. Pull apart to serve.


To view other members' bake, please visit The Home Bakers (THB).

Welcome to The Home Bakers

We are a group of home bakers who are currently baking from "Coffee Cakes" by Lou Seibert Pappas, until each recipe from this book has been baked. This is our bake no. 31 and we have 29 recipes more to go. If you are interested to be a member and join in our bakes, you may drop me an email at


  1. Your focaccia bread really looks like a sunflower, well done!

  2. Oh Joyce , I wish I could reach in and grab a slice , I will have to bake some and I will use rosemary , like you grow my own herbs , thanks for sharing :)

  3. It looks heavenly to me, Joyce! You are quite the baker. I just may need to move so I can finally have me some homemade bread because it doesn't look like I'll be baking focaccia and time soon:) Simple lovely, Joyce. It really looks sunflowerish, lol...Thank you so much for sharing...

  4. Your focaccia looks beautiful, feel so happy when I see this sunflower focaccia in the morning.

  5. very nice sunflower you've got there.. i love focaccia at anytime... and with home grown rosemary, it's more the merrier!!

  6. well done, so nice! Look very special.

  7. I love the way of this foccacia,very attractive! Sure great and yummy to serve with mushroom soup.

  8. Joyce, I am dying for a slice of bread hah...hah....

  9. I remember the first ( and only ) time that I made foccacia , it was so sticky I nearly throw it :P Good thing I didn't :D I love the look of this foccacia , way better than the usual shape .

  10. Wonderful and lovely to look at foccacia. Excellent preparation.

  11. Adorable! I would love a few slices for my dinner.

  12. I wish you lived close to me so that I could have some lessons on bread making :-) It is a beautiful design.

  13. What a lovely bread! Must taste fantastic, I love focaccias! :) ela

  14. Hi Joyce,

    I wasn't 100% satisfied with my focaccia too. Yeah... shaping was fun but the seeds / nuts fell off from my bread too... and also too tough to chew... Ai ya!!!!


  15. Wow, it looks so gorgeous, Joyce! Wish I made it correctly. Thanks so much for advising me to watch the water content of western bread recipes.

  16. awesome and a yummy recipe..hi 1st time here...happy to follow you..would be glad if you too follow me :)

  17. Hi Joyce, This looks fabulous & thanks for the tips too. I have not bake this focaccia yet but planning to do it soon. Hopefully it turn outs as good as yours! ;)

  18. Hi Joyce, sorry for posting mine so late! Making focaccia is really not easy, I think I got it wrong in my attempt... well there's always the next time right? ;) Thanks for the tips!