MINI GLUTEN-FREE FOCACCIA WITH HERBS, GRAPES, OLIVES, AND PINE NUTS
While the ancient Romans certainly weren’t baking with xanthan gum and gluten-free flours, they sure did love their flatbreads, often studded with fresh herbs and fruits or vegetables. These mini breads carry the same delicious flavor as traditional focaccia, with the added bonus of being safe for anyone with a gluten sensitivity or allergy. The dough is spiced with yarrow, coriander seeds, and a bit of thyme, then studded with sweet roasted grapes and briny olives. A drizzle of olive oil and a dusting of sumac give the dough a rich flavor and just a touch of tart brightness, while pine nuts add a pleasant crunch. A couple of tricks for getting lighter gluten-free breads while retaining that lovely yeasted flavor: I add a little bit of baking powder to help leaven the breads while baking. I also add a couple of eggs to increase the rise. Finally, I keep the dough fairly wet and sticky; if it is too dense, it won’t be able to rise properly. Working with gluten-free bread dough is very different from regular bread dough, but just follow the instructions and you’ll do great! This is loosely adapted from a recipe in Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.
Makes six mini focaccia.
2 cups white rice flour
1 cup sorghum flour
⅔ cup tapioca starch
⅓ cup potato starch
2 tablespoons xanthan gum
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fresh yarrow, finely chopped
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons flaky sea salt, plus extra
2 cups lukewarm water
¼ cup olive oil, plus extra
Fresh grapes, red or purple
Olives, red or black
½ cup pine nuts
2 tablespoons sumac, optional
Whisk together the flours, baking powder, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer until very evenly distributed. Add the herbs and whisk in.
Dissolve the salt and honey in the lukewarm water and add it along with the eggs. Add the olive oil.
Mix with the paddle attachment on medium speed for 10 minutes. The dough should be soft and sticky; the long mixing time helps get air bubbles in it while also activating the xanthan gum to allow for a good risen texture!
Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rise at room temperature for about 2 hours or until the dough is soft and fluffy. You can shape and use it right away, or very gently transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Sprinkle some of the fine cornmeal on a nonstick baking mat on a large baking tray. Divide the dough into 6 portions, handling it gently with damp hands to prevent it sticking.
Gently pat each piece into a ball, then flatten into an oval disk on the baking sheet, keeping them all spaced out evenly.
Gently smooth the surface with a little water if needed. The dough should be a half-inch thick. Press the grapes and olives into the surface of the dough, spaced about 1 or 2 centimeters apart.
Drizzle each bread with a little more olive oil and sprinkle with pine nuts, flaked sea salt, and sumac powder. Let rest on the baking sheet for 20 to 30 minutes (or 1 hour if using refrigerated dough) while you preheat the oven to 425ºF.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the crust is golden. Remove from the oven and let cool on a baking rack.