This pumpkin focaccia with herbs is easy to make, bakes up into a beautiful sunny orange color, and is savory and delicious.
If you’ve never made a pumpkin focaccia, I will walk you through it. And then you can decide whether you want to make it for Thanksgiving or maybe make some pumpkin dinner rolls instead. Or make both, because having choices is a good thing.
You can find more of my Thanksgiving breads all in one place here.
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Savory Pumpkin Bread
And hard on the heels of that thought was this one: focaccia.
I checked out a few pumpkin focaccia recipes, but the flavor profile was sweeter, with cinnamon and nutmeg and whatnot in them.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t think sweet when I think of focaccia, so I went the savory herb route–a ready made mix that’s really easy to find. Poultry seasoning. And that was that.
Using a Starter to Make Focaccia
Using a starter to make a focaccia does a couple of things.
- It adds complexity to the flavor and to the gluten structure
- Since the yeast in the starter is all bubbly and happy already, it shortens the rise time for the final dough.
Making a starter for focaccia is very easy.
All you need to make the starter is flour, water, and yeast.
Simply stir the three ingredients together and let the very wet starter sit out on the counter for a few hours until it is nice and bubbly and well risen.
This is not a sourdough starter, but just the action of the yeast working on the very wet flour and water mixture lends extra flavor as well as a lot of well developed gluten.
Double or triple the ingredients for the starter so you can make a couple of other focaccias over the next 2-3 days.
The extra starter will be fine in the fridge for that long, so make more pumpkin focaccia, try my lemon tarragon focaccia, or come up with your own flavor combination/s and toppings.
Focaccia Making Equipment Recommendations
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Since this is a very wet dough, it really is easier to make this using a stand mixer. Do not try to use a hand mixer, even one with dough hooks. The motor is not strong enough to knead it for as long as it needs.
If you decide to roast your own pumpkin (or you like to make applesauce or apple butter), a food mill is a great tool to have on hand. This OXO food mill is the one I own, and it is very easy to work with and comes with coarse, medium, and fine dies so you can get the texture you want.
How to Make Roasted Pumpkin Focaccia with Herbs
I used the basic focaccia recipe from the restaurant, adapting it just a bit to allow for the pumpkin puree.
And wow, am I glad I did. A new star is born: roasted pumpkin focaccia.
I roasted a pumpkin and ran it through the food mill to get my puree, but know that this recipe will work just as well if you use canned pumpkin instead of roasting your own.
Here’s what you’ll need to make the focaccia:
- Bread flour, water, and yeast for the starter
- pumpkin puree
- more yeast and bread flour
- poultry seasoning
- black pepper
- kosher salt
- olive oil
- more olive oil, coarse or flaky finishing salt, and chopped fresh rosemary for topping
- Roast the pie pumpkin and puree. You can do this the day before. And remember, you can also use canned pumpkin, so no worries if you don’t feel like wrangling a pumpkin.
- Make the starter and let rise until light and bubbly. Stir down the starter and add it to the bowl of your stand mixer
- (OPTIONALLY) Refrigerate the starter overnight if you have time. This will help the starter, and the eventual bread, develop more flavor.
- Mix together the starter, pumpkin puree, additional yeast and bread flour, poultry seasoning, pepper, water, kosher salt, and olive oil on low speed until combined.
- Knead on medium speed for 12 minutes. Your dough will be wet and will stick in the bottom of the mixer bowl. This is just fine.
- Put the dough in a large oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled.
- Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and generously oil it with olive oil.
- Dump your risen dough onto the pan without punching it down and gently stretch it out with oiled hands to fit the pan.
- Dimple the dough and drizzle on a fair amount of olive oil.
- Cover and let rise for about an hour.
- Top with rosemary and coarse salt and bake 25-30 minutes.
- Let cool to warm before slicing and serving.
What To Serve with Focaccia
Aside from serving this pumpkin focaccia as one of your Thanksgiving breads, you can also serve it as a bread along with almost any meal you can think of.
Can You Freeze Pumpkin Focaccia?
Yes. Like almost all bread, focaccia freezes very well.
Allow the bread to cool completely. If you have room in your freezer, wrap the loaf whole in plastic wrap and heavy duty foil and freeze for up to 4 weeks.
If you don’t have a lot of room, you may slice the bread before freezing.
Put the slices in heavy duty freezer bags (it may take 2 or 3 because you don’t want to compress the bread too much), and press out as much air as you can before sealing and freezing.
A Note About Measurements
NOTE: Most of my recipes are written by weight and not volume, even the liquids.
Even though I try to provide you with volume measurements as well, I encourage you to buy a kitchen scale for ease of measuring, accuracy, and consistency.
This is the scale I use, love, and recommend.
For the Pumpkin (sub canned if you don't want to roast your own)
- 1 small pie pumpkin
- a little vegetable oil for brushing
For the Starter
- 6.5 oz bread flour
- 5.5 oz filtered water at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
For the Focaccia
- 8 oz pumpkin puree
- all the starter
- 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 23 oz bread flour
- 1 Tablespoon poultry seasoning
- several grindings of black pepper, to taste
- 12 oz filtered water at room temperature
- 1/2 oz kosher salt
- 1.75 oz extra virgin olive oil
To Finish and Bake
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Fleur de Sel or other coarse finishing salt
- 1-2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
For the Starter
- In a large bowl, whisk the yeast into the flour and then pour in the water.
- Stir until you have a shaggy dough and all the flour is moistened.
- Cover and set aside for several hours so the yeast can multiply. You can make this the day before you bake and not even worry about refrigerating it. If you do want to refrigerate it, make sure it comes up to room temperature before baking.
For the Pumpkin (If Roasting Your Own)
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Wash the pumpkin, cut it in half and scoop out all the seeds (reserve them if you'd like to make toasted pumpkin seeds later)
- Cut the halves in half so you have 4 quarters. Brush the cut sides and empty cavities of the pumpkin with a bit of oil and place them, cut side up, on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Roast until easily pierced with a fork, between 30 and 45 minutes. They should also have some nice color on them and a lot of the liquid should have run out.
- Scoop out the meat of your pumpkin and pass it through a food mill fitted with the medium die. It should be about the consistency of canned pumpkin.
- If the puree seems loose and pourable, let it drain through a coffee filter or fine mesh strainer until the consistency is spoonable.
- Cool to at least room temperature. You won't use all your puree in this recipe, so plan on making a pie or maybe some risotto or soup with the rest.
For the Focaccia
- Add all your ingredients to the bowl of your stand mixer in the order listed. Fit the mixer with the dough hook and allow all the ingredients to get incorporated on low speed.
- Once the dough is fairly uniform in color and appearance, 2-3 minutes, increase the speed to medium low and knead for about 12 minutes. This is a wet dough and will stick in the bottom of the bowl a very lot. It will clear the sides of the bowl mostly, and the dough hook will eventually start pulling the dough in from the sides so it looks stringy. That's a good thing.
- After the dough is nice and supple, pour some olive oil into a large bowl and swirl it around to coat. Then dump all the dough into the bowl--no need to worry about forming it into a ball. It will be fine.
- Oil the top of the dough and cover.
- Let rise in a warm, cozy part of your kitchen until about doubled, about 2 hours or so. If you have time, let it rise at room temperature. It will take a lot longer, but you will get a bit better flavor. Either way is fine.
- Once the dough is nicely risen, glug about 1/4 cup or so of olive oil on a parchment-lined sheet pan and brush it around.
- Scrape the risen dough--without punching it down--onto the pan and let it sort of ooze out.
- Oil your hands and help it along. It will just about fill one 1/2 sheet pan. If it starts to spring back when you gently stretch it, cover it and let it rest for 5-10 minutes so the gluten can relax. Then continue to stretch it to fit in the pan.
- Once the dough is all fitted into the pan and about 1/2" thick, use your fingertips to dimple the dough all over.
- Liberally drizzle on more olive oil, allowing it to pool in the dimples. You can also brush it out so you use less oil. I drizzle with abandon, myself.
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Cover the dough and let rise until it peeks above the edge of the pan by about 1/4". This will take an hour or so.
- Uncover and sprinkle on the rosemary evenly followed by the coarse salt.
- Bake on the center rack for about 20 minutes. If it is not browning evenly, rotate the pan and continue baking for another 10-15 minutes or until the bread is a lovely golden brown and the internal temperature in the center is 200F.
- Let cool to below 150F before slicing.
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Nutrition InformationYield 16 Serving Size 1/16 pan
Amount Per Serving Calories 262Total Fat 9gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 7gCholesterol 0mgSodium 383mgCarbohydrates 39gFiber 2gSugar 1gProtein 7g
The stated nutritional information is provided as a courtesy. It is calculated through third party software and is intended as a guideline only.
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Take care, and have a lovely day.