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Fig, golden raisin, and date focaccia

Makes about 20 pieces

DOUGH

Extra butter (for the sheet and bowl)
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 tablespoons plus 3/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 cups flour
1/3 cup whole milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
9 tablespoons unsalted butter,softened
3/4 cup stemmed and chopped dried figs (preferably Black Mission)
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup pitted and diced dates

1. Have on hand a thermometer, a heavy-duty mixer with a flat paddle, and a large rimmed baking sheet. Butter the sheet.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the yeast, 3/4 teaspoon sugar, and warm water. Let the mixture stand for 8 minutes. Stir in the 1/4 cup of flour. Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the mixture expands by at least half.

3. In a small saucepan, warm the milk with 3 tablespoons sugar and the salt. Remove from the heat and cool to 105 degrees.

4. Pour the milk mixture into a heavy duty mixer fitted with the flat paddle. Blend in the vanilla and eggs.

5. Add the yeast mixture and beat until mixed. Add the remaining 1 3/4 cups flour in 2 additions, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl after portion.

6. Beat in the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time. Stop the machine from time to time to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat the dough on moderate speed for 4 minutes. The dough should be elastic and shiny. If the dough seems unmanageable, you can add up to 2 tablespoons additional flour.

7. Rinse the first mixing bowl, wipe it dry and butter it. Scrape the dough into the bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let dough rise at room temperature for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.

8. With a rubber spatula, lightly compress the dough with a rubber spatula, cover loosely, and let stand for 10 minutes.

9. Sprinkle the figs, raisins, and dates on the dough and knead lightly in the bowl until incorporated. This will be difficult at first until the fruit breaks through the dough.

10. Place the dough on the baking sheet and shape it into an oval, leaving 3 inches around the edges of the sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap.

11. Let rise at room temperature for 1 hour, or until puffed and almost doubled in bulk.

TOPPING

2 tablespoons unsalted butter,melted and cooled slightly
2 tablespoons sugar

1. Set the oven at 375 degrees.

2. Discard the plastic wrap from the dough. Brush the melted butter on top and sprinkle with sugar.

3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until set and golden brown. Cool the focaccia on the sheet for 10 minutes. Serve torn into craggy pieces.

Lisa Yockelson

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