Whenever I visit my friends in California, I always fill half of my suitcase with meyer lemons from their backyard before I return. I came up with this to finish off the very last of my recent harvest. Thinly-sliced meyer lemons sweeten in the heat of the oven, but the little punch of bitter rind play nicely against the salty-sweet topping on this airy, crusty focaccia. Totally addictive. —deensiebat
Test Kitchen Notes
WHO: deensiebat works in public radio and lives in the Pacific Northwest.
WHAT: A gorgeous, tart, salty, sweet, and addictive flatbread.
HOW: Top an easy dough with thinly-sliced Meyer lemons, bake, and devour.
WHY WE LOVE IT: This is a kind of bread that makes us forget the doldrums of winter: it is bright, it is addictive, and it is deeply satisfying. —The Editors
active dry yeast
coarse salt, divided
sugar, divided (a coarse sugar, like demara, is nice for texture, but totally not critical)
olive oil, divided, plus additional for greasing the bowl
(aka 2 1/4 cups) flour
large meyer lemon (or 2 smaller ones), washed and sliced as thinly as possible
Combine the water and yeast in a bowl, and let sit for a minute or two to allow the yeast to soften and bloom. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, 2 tablespoons of the oil, and the flour. Mix with a large spoon until fully blended, then cover and let sit for 5 minutes to fully hydrate. Mix for an additional minute or two, until the dough becomes smooth. Grease another bowl or container with a bit of oil, and, using a spatula, transfer the dough into the bowl. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
After the dough has rested, using wet or oiled hands, reach into the bowl under one end of the dough, and pull it gently to fold the dough in half. Repeat with the other three sides of the dough, then flip the whole doughball over. Let rest 10 minutes, then repeat 2-3 more times. After the last folding, cover the bowl, and refrigerate overnight, or up to two days. (These folds may seem a bit fussy, but achieve the dual purpose of incorporating some air pockets into the dough, and firming it up without using additional flour.)
About 1 1/2 - 2 hours before you’d like to bake (depending on how warm your kitchen is), take the dough out of the refrigerator, and allow to come to room temperature for ~45 minutes to take the chill off. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or brush them heavily with olive oil. Gently divide the dough into two balls (they might be a bit more like blobs then balls), and place them on the prepared sheets. Let sit 10 minutes to relax, then, with oiled or wet hands, use your fingertips to sort of pat-and-push the dough out into 9” circles from the inside out, dimpling them without totally compressing them (if they resist, you can pat them out a little, let the dough rest ~5-10 minutes, then pat them out a little more and repeat as needed—it’s important you press the dough out to out least this diameter, otherwise it will be too thick to cook properly). Let rise for ~30-45 minutes (depending upon the heat of your kitchen, and how warm/risen the dough was when you started working). While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 500.
When the dough has risen, scatter the lemon slices and rosemary needles over the top, and drizzle with the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil, and scatter on the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons coarse salt. (that's 1 Tbsp/tsp per focaccia). Place the trays in the oven, then turn down the heat to 450. Bake for ~20 minutes, until the focaccia has cooked to a golden brown (it may seem a little underdone in some parts, especially around the lemons, but as long as their are no large uncolored spots you'll be fine). Let cool slightly, then serve warm or at room temperature (ideally as soon as possible).