Festive Winter Squash Focaccia

Focaccia topped with squash and cranberries on a wood cutting board

This focaccia is fluffy, savory, and topped with some of winter’s best ingredients: squash, rosemary, and cranberries! The vegan feta doesn’t hurt either. It’s also a great way to warm up your kitchen in the cooler months.

Focaccia topped with squash and cranberries on a wood cutting board

It’s been a minute since I’ve post a focaccia recipe! The last one was for my Spring Asparagus Focaccia, so of course a winter version is in order. I’ve changed up the base a bit and I’m super happy with it. Part of the inspiration was my love of bread, and the other part is that I needed to test the proofing setting on my newest toy/star of my kitchen: the KitchenAid Countertop Oven with Air Fry.

Ingredients for squash focaccia in small bowls on a table

Now, once I posted that I got this (yes, bought it!!), because it was on sale, I had a bunch of questions on my social media about what I thought. Well, I’ve been testing out all of the settings the last two weeks and I love it!! It’s especially awesome because I kind of have a double oven situation again? And I was able to get rid of a few appliances! So below is a video of this recipe, plus me testing all of the functions on this sleek appliance.

Thinly sliced acorn squash next to a red mandolin

While I picked some of my favorite ingredients that I thought would go well together here, I love focaccia because it acts as a perfect base for damn-near anything. You can go sparse with just a little coarse salt and olive oil, or layer it up to almost pizza-level! Here’ I tried to find a nice in-between so that we could get some winter flavors in but still get a lil’ crunch on top.

Image collage of adding water to flour and mixing dough in steel bowl

Equipment:

KitchenAid CounterTop Oven with Air Fry (image source: KitchenAid)

Substitutions and Tips:

  • Unbleached all-purpose flour – you are welcome to use 1/2 AP flour and 1/2 bread flour, and maybe all bread flour would work, but I wouldn’t choose any other flour that wasn’t high in gluten and fine (not coarse).
  • Instant yeast – As always you can use active dry yeast if you don’t have instant yeast on hand. Here is a great conversion guide for using yeasts in baking.
  • Sugar – you can also use agave nectar in place of the sugar, this is more for the yeast to feed on than actual flavor. If you use agave nectar, add it with the water and olive oil.
  • Olive oil – the is pretty much the standard for focaccia so do not attempt to switch it out with broth or anything like that. You may be able to use avocado oil, or another nice, flavorful oil, but olive oil is highly recommended.
  • Winter squash – I used Carnival squash for this (fancy acorn squash), but other delicious options are butternut, kabocha, or delicata squash.
  • Fresh cranberries – in a pinch you can use frozen-then-thawed cranberries in place of fresh. You could use dried cranberries, but they will have a little added sweetness from the sugar in them.
  • Vegan feta – so there are a couple of brands of vegan feta at this point, so you can choose to cube up a block or use crumbles. If you don’t have access to either, you can make tofu feta, and crumble it up! (It just won’t melt into the top)
  • Fresh rosemary – you can use dried instead (roughly 1/2-1 teaspoon) but I’d mixed it in with the dough so that it doesn’t burn on top when baked.
  • Suggested (but optional) pairing: a drizzle of balsamic or balsamic reduction on top would be fabulous! Or serve the slices with a little dish of olive oil and balsamic together.
  • Leftover squash – no matter what size the squash you use for this recipe, chances are you’re going to have quite a bit left. Use the rest in my Autumn Squash Wild Rice Bake or Squash & Scramble Breakfast Tacos!
Image collage of prepping and topping focaccia before baking

Aside from just a pleasant snack to have at any time, this winter focaccia would also be great alongside a creamy bisque and a glass of wine!

Focaccia topped with squash and cranberries on a wood cutting board

Festive Winter Squash Focaccia

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Proofing Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours

This focaccia is fluffy, savory, and topped with some of winter's best ingredients: squash, rosemary, and cranberries! The vegan feta doesn't hurt either.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (380 g) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (296 ml) warm water
  • 5 tablespoons (85 ml) olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup (66 g) very thinly sliced winter squash, I used acorn
  • 1/4 cup (20 g) fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 cup (32 g) vegan feta crumbles or diced
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Cracked pepper
  • Optional serving suggestion: drizzle with balsamic vinegar or reduction

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, place flour, sugar, yeast, and salt, stir together until combined, then add water and 3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil. Stir/knead together for 2 minutes until a shaggy dough is formed (you can also use a stand mixer with dough hook for this).
  2. Coax the dough into a ball, then cover bowl with linen and proof in a warm area (75-90F) for 30-45 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size. You can turn your oven light on and keep it in there if your kitchen is cold (or a countertop oven as I did).
  3. Dust a work surface with flour and turn the dough out onto it. Pull the edges of the dough out to a square shape then fold in half, and stretch out, repeating this several times to build air bubbles.
  4. Coat a 9x13-inch (23x33-cm) baking pan with 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil, then stretch the dough out to cover roughly 75% of the pan, don't worry, it will expand to fit! Cover pan with towel and let proof for 30-45 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size and reaches all sides of the pan (it may not reach the corners fully).
  5. Preheat your oven to 425F (220C or gas mark 8). Next, drizzle remaining tablespoon (15 ml) of olive oil over the dough, and poke your fingers into it to make dimples all over, about 1-inch (2.5 cm) apart.
  6. Then, top dough with squash slices, cranberries (I like to push these into the dimples), and vegan feta. Tear the leaves off of the sprigs of rosemary and sprinkle them over everything, along with the coarse salt and cracked pepper, to preference.
  7. Bake for 19-22 minutes, or until browned along the edges and golden brown on top. Cool on a rack for 15 to 30 minutes before cutting and serving. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Instant yeast - As always you can use active dry yeast if you don't have instant yeast on hand, though the rising times will change.
  • Olive oil - You may be able to use avocado oil, or another nice, flavorful oil, but olive oil is highly recommended.
  • Winter squash - I used Carnival squash for this (fancy acorn squash), but other delicious options are butternut, kabocha, or delicata squash.
  • Fresh cranberries - in a pinch you can use frozen-then-thawed cranberries or a lesser amount of dried ones in place of fresh.
  • Vegan feta - If you don't have access to storebought vegan feta, you can make tofu feta, and crumble it up! (It just won't melt into the top)
  • Fresh rosemary - you can use dried instead (roughly 1/2-1 teaspoon) but I'd mixed it in with the dough so that it doesn't burn on top when baked.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 270Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gSodium: 672mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 6g

The nutrition information is calculated by a plug-in, and isn't always accurate. Please calculate your own with the products that you use, as it will be different for everyone.

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Focaccia topped with squash and cranberries on a wood cutting board

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