Kicking up Focaccia con frutta (Fruit Focaccia): My Way with Ginger Root and Spices

A favourite invention: Fresch baked blueberry and lichee focaccia. Photo J. Chong
A favourite invention: Fresh baked blueberry, blackberry and lichee focaccia. Photo J. Chong

Ever since I discovered that Italians traditionally  studded their focaccia dough with red or green grapes instead of just  sundried tomatoes, I’ve been on the occasional focaccia con frutta-making streak. However the variations I’ve concocted, have morphed into flatbread closer to a dessert pizza.

I did not know the Italian tradition when I jumped into schiacciata-making, because I was inspired first by the grape bread from the Vancouver bakery, Terra Bread. It’s wonderful stuff with a coffee or tea. Schiacciata means “crushed or smashed” according to one helpful cycling friend who visits her family in Italy. (For some reason, that term is used by some recipes to denote the grape focaccia version.)

Grape bread at Terra Bakery, Vancouver BC.
Source of inspiration: grape bread at Terra Bakery, Vancouver BC.

Unlike some Internet recipes which may use sugar in the dough or on top, or drizzled with sweet wine, I’m pleased to say that I’ve stumbled across as equally tasty, yet creative versions that eliminate the use of sugar.  By default, traditional focaccia or pizza dough, has no egg, butter nor shortening. A great healthy base to begin piling on the fresh fruit and spices.

Ripe blackberries, some already picked. Photo by J. Chong
Ripe blackberries, some already picked. Photo by J. Chong. Frequent wild fruit encountered while cycling along in Northwest coast Canada and U.S.

Usually it’s summer time with piles of local fruit at the markets, particularily the berries,  that inspire me to mess around with the warm, yeasty focaccia dough.

Rustic Experiments with Juicy, Fresh Berries
I make my jazzed-up schiacciata with any of the following fresh berries:  blueberries, blackberries, raspberries or grapes. The latter is my last choice since my juicier experiments with ripe berries are more elegant and luscious in taste.  I have also tried sliced fresh mango, though when it’s baked, the mango flavour is muted.

After the focaccia dough has risen twice with intermittent punch down and 3 minutes of kneading, press out the dough flat onto a baking sheet. Before laying on fruit, press into the warm dough:  freshly grated ginger root, followed by freshly pounded aniseed –about 2-3 tablespoons per large cookie sheet of dough.

Freshly baked raspberry, blackberry and blueberry focaccia --bursting with summer juices.
Freshly baked raspberry, blackberry and blueberry focaccia –bursting with summer juices. Photo by J. Chong. Flavoured with cinnamon, nutmeg, aniseed and grated ginger root.

That’s the secret, flavourful gentle kicker that is both east-west mysterious. I have even tried peeled and seeded ripe lichees also –lovely. They are married with fresh blueberries or another berry. Lichees taste like a fragrant grape.

After gently pressing into the dough, fresh whole blueberries, raspberries or blackberries, sprinkle all over the focaccia with  cinnamon, cardamom or nutmeg if you wish.  Grate fresh lemon rind of 1 lemon, squeeze fresh lemon juice and drizzle all over with fresh honey.

Dessert focaccia to relax on the balcony.
Dessert focaccia to relax on the balcony –simple and healthy. No sugar, no eggs nor butter.

Pop into the oven, 475-500 degrees F for 15 minutes or until the dough is springy firm and very lightly golden. The hot berries might have burst abit by now.

Be sure to eat while still warm  –the berries or warm grapes explode sweetly in your mouth while also the dough is still abit soft.  A perfect healthy dessert that celebrates summer goodness and joy.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. timethief says:

    Oh boy – do these ever look delicious. 🙂 Your photos are so good and I can’t wait to prod hubby in this direction. Of all the fruits berries are my favorites. I never thought of having them with lichees. But then I’ve never thought of dessert focaccia as we have always had the savory kind. Thanks for posting the eye candy and recipe too.


    1. Jean says:

      It’s yummers and absolutely easy. One could use pizza dough as a short cut. I like my dough that I make, because it’s softer (to me). I really do take a free-form, creative approach to making one each time. Each time it’s different. Wishing you this summer dessert one lovely evening! It makes a very different dish for guests also. It just has to be served warm at least. 🙂


  2. Hi Jean, only the other day I was thinking that no one ever makes bread with liquorice and I guess aniseed is pretty close in flavour to that, I have never tried making bread with fresh fruit, apart from apples, and I think this sounds amazingly luscious! I might have seen a version of this made with pine nuts and grapes, not sure. I have a berry allergic husband, so we don’t make a whole lot with berries, but ginger root and aniseed sound perfect. I might have to make it just for me! 😀


  3. Jean says:

    You would find it very easy since focaccia dough is pretty basic (but then all healthy breads are like that). Yes, the grape bread at the bakery had pine nuts also. Wonder if he would be allergic to fresh figs because I’ve tried it with peeled and cut fresh figs also. It is also wonderful with other spices.

    Many possibilities! Enjoy the gustatory explorations.


  4. ava says:

    My favorite fruits, berries(unfortunately this is not indigenous to the Philippines, I only get my doses on yogurt flavored berries) and lychee! This can’t go any wrong for me! Send me some Ms. Jean.!


    1. Jean says:

      Wish I could get fresh fruit past customs to you, Ava! Yes, blueberries and raspberries need just abit cooler weather. Here in Canada they are only grown and available for a few months. But we love it. And that includes blackberries which the natural “wild” ones are delicious. I love fresh lychees when I can get them from usually Asian stores. Although some of the big supermarket chains in larger Canadian cities do sell them for a limited time.


    1. Jean says:

      It’s easy to make if you get pre-made dough from the store.


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