Orange, Onion and Olive Focaccia

Oranges and onions and olives… oh my!

Do you think that the person who came up with this recipe decided that they’d use ingredients with the same first letter? They might be on to something.

C: chicken, cocoa and chillies… all part of Chicken Mole.
P: pancetta, peas and Parmesan served with pasta.
G: Grey Goose vodka, grapefruit and grenadine would make a fine cocktail.

That last one may have been a stretch.

I like the idea of building some extra flavour into focaccia by adding orange zest to the dough. And mixing the zest with the salt reminds me of a tip I gleaned from watching every episode of the Great British Bake Off: do not let the salt get close to the yeast as it will slow the fermentation. We are not making flatbread here, folks.

But we are making focaccia. Here’s how it went.

Got the yeast and sugar into a bowl.

Yeast and sugar.

Added warm water and let it sit for 15 minutes.

Add 1/4 cup of water (a whatfoodimade action shot™!).

While the yeast is getting foamy, grab the oranges, zest them and add the zest to the salt.


Measure the flour.


Add the orange zest and salt to the flour and mix it thoroughly.

Orange zest and salt.

Add the yeast to the flour.

Add the foamy yeast (another whatfoodimade action shot™!).

Get some more water into the bowl.

Add some more water (a third whatfoodimade action shot™!).

Pour the olive oil in there too.

Olive oil (the fourth whatfoodimade action shot™!).

Stir until the mixture comes together.

Knead this.

I ignored the instructions and used a stand mixer to knead the dough. Coat the dough with oil and let it alone for an hour.


While waiting for the dough to rise, remove all the rest of the peel from the orange.

Peel-free orange.

Slice the orange, then chop it into pieces. prep the olives oand onion too.

Sliced orange.

After an hour, the dough is much bigger than the last time we saw it.

Focaccia dough.

Stretch it into a baking pan (12 x 18″ can now be recommended) then poke holes in the dough and pour olive oil on top.


Lightly push the orange pieces and slivered olive into the dough.

Covered with orange pieces and slivered olives.

Add the slices of onion to the focaccia, sprinkle with flaky salt and freshly ground pepper. Bake for 25 minutes.

As many slices onions as would fit.

It looks like this when the baking is done.

Orange, Onion and Olive Focaccia.

Orange, Onion and Olive Focaccia.

Orange, Onion and Olive Focaccia, served.

A great combination of flavours.

The recipe:

Orange, Onion and Olive Focaccia
Servings: 12

Sweet, tangy, and salty, this focaccia is hard to stop eating. Depending on the size of your oranges, you may not use all of them. And though it may look like a lot of onion, don’t worry: It shrinks and mellows when baked.


1-1/2 Tbs. granulated sugar
2-1/2 tsp. (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast
2 oranges (about 9 oz. each)
2 tsp. table salt
18 oz. (4 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for kneading
5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 sweet onion, halved and very thinly sliced (1-3/4 to 2 cups)
1/4 cup pitted black olives, such as Kalamatas, slivered lengthwise
Flaky sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano (optional)


In a small bowl, combine the sugar, yeast, and 1/4 cup warm (90°F) water. Let stand until the yeast dissolves and the mixture is foamy, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, use a rasp-style grater to remove 1-1/2 Tbs. zest from the oranges. In a small bowl, toss the zest with the salt.

In a large bowl, combine 3-3/4 cups of the flour with the salt and zest, using your fingers to make sure the zest is well distributed with no clumps. Make a well in the center. Add the yeast mixture, 2 Tbs. of the oil, and 1 cup warm water, and stir with a wooden spoon until a rough dough forms.

Oil a large, clean mixing bowl with about 1 Tbs. of the oil.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead in the remaining 1/4 cup flour. Continue kneading until the dough is soft, smooth, and elastic, about 5 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball, and transfer it to the prepared bowl. Turn the dough over in the bowl to thoroughly coat with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel, and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, peel and slice the oranges, and then cut each slice into 4 to 6 pieces.

Position a rack in the centre of the oven, and heat to 400°F.

Roll the dough out on a piece of parchment sized for a large baking sheet until it is almost the size of the parchment. Transfer on the parchment to a large rimmed baking sheet, fitting it to fill. Using wet fingertips, make indentations across the surface. Brush all over with 2 Tbs. oil, letting the oil pool in the indentations.

Scatter the orange pieces and olives over the surface of the dough, and gently press them into the dough. Spread the onion slices evenly over the dough and gently press them in. Sprinkle all over with flaky salt, a little black pepper, and the oregano, if you like. Bake until risen and golden on top and bottom, 25 to 35 minutes. (Areas around the orange pieces will remain light.)

Slide a metal spatula under the focaccia and transfer it to a rack. Let cool briefly before cutting and serving.


2 thoughts on “Orange, Onion and Olive Focaccia

  1. Using only ingredients beginning with the same first letter sounds like a viral going internet challenge in the making. The combination sounds quite strange, but you made it look really appetizing.

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