Apple Focaccia with Blue Cheese and Herbs
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Our ideal entertaining spread always includes some form of both bread and cheese, so of course recipe developer and pastry chef extraordinaire Erin McDowell found a way to combine the two. This apple focaccia with blue cheese and herbs is sweet, savory and ready for a cocktail party.
“I really like making focaccia,” the author of The Fearless Baker tells us, “for parties in particular, as an alternative appetizer. And it goes from appetizer to meal situation very easily, so sometimes I like to think of the focaccia almost like a cheese plate: In this case, it’s blue cheese, apples and honey, which all pair great together, and it’s all baked on something that’s portable and easy to cut.”
“If you wanted to add a heartier twist,” she continues, “you could even do some prosciutto or another meat on the top to make it a complete charcuterie plate.”
Let’s be honest: We were hooked at cheese plate.
5 cups (602g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1½ tablespoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
2 medium (300g) whole apples, such as Honeycrisp, Jonagold or Gala, thinly sliced and deseeded
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
6 ounces high-quality blue cheese
Fresh thyme sprigs, as needed for finishing
1. Make the Focaccia Dough: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, mix the flour, yeast, salt, 2½ cups (565g) warm water and olive oil on low speed until a shaggy, sticky dough forms, about 2 minutes. Scrape the side and base of the bowl well, then mix again on medium speed for 2 minutes more.
2. Grease a large bowl with olive oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise overnight (at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours).
3. Assemble and Bake: When ready to bake, grease a 13-by-18-inch rimmed baking sheet generously with olive oil, then scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Stipple the dough all over with your fingertips, then let it rest for 30 to 45 minutes.
4. Drizzle the dough all over with a bit of olive oil, then stipple the dough again and let it rest for 15 to 30 minutes more.
5. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 425°F. Arrange the apple slices over the surface of the dough in an even layer, overlapping each piece slightly. Drizzle the honey evenly over the apples and sprinkle the rosemary evenly on top.
6. Transfer the focaccia to the oven and bake until it’s evenly golden brown (the fruit may even be charred in places—that’s OK), 15 to 18 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes, then sprinkle the blue cheese and thyme on top of the focaccia. Cool completely before slicing and serving.