Focaccia is a classic Italian bread easily identified by its dimples and airy center. It’s fun to make, with endless topping combinations. Our focaccia not only adds a fun Japanese twist, but it comes out perfectly moist and chewy with the help of a lesser known soybean product: okara.
What is okara?
Okara is actually abyproduct of soybean processing. When making soy milk or tofu, soybeans are mashed and pressed out, leaving a pulp – okara. To avoid waste, tofu and soymilk manufacturers repackage okara alongside their primary products. For longer shelf life, it’s also dehydrated into okara powder, like the one featured in ourBaking: “Amai” Care package. Okara is not only packed with protein, but also dietary fiber and calcium, making it an extremely nutritious, plant-based product.
Okara as a protein supplement
Like many breads, focaccia usually requires high protein bread flour in order to achieve a chewy bite. For casual bread bakers, purchasing another bag of flour may seem tedious and wasteful. It’s why we combined all-purpose flour with okara powder. The okara helps form the gluten necessary for a bread without needing to purchase bread flour.
With the base of the focaccia done, we like to top it with beautiful pink sakura blossoms. Since they are salt-pickled, a little goes a long way! They go wonderfully with sweet caramelized onion and luscious camembert cheese for a uniquely Japanese style focaccia that would impress anyone!
Ingredients for the bread
- 3g yeast
- 270ml warm water (100°F/38°C)
- 330g all purpose flour
- 20g okara (soybean pulp) powder
- 5g salt
- 3 tbsp, plus more for greasing equipment, olive oil
Ingredients for the toppings
- 10-15g (stems included) salt pickled sakura
- 50g (about half a small wheel) Camembert cheese
- 1 tsp flaky sea salt
Ingredients to cook onions
- Half, sliced thinly, yellow onion
- Olive oil, for sauteing
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp granulated sugar
- In a small bowl, mix together the yeast and warm water to allow the yeast to bloom. Meanwhile, in a larger bowl, mix together the flour, okara powder, and salt
- Once the yeast has bloomed (the water surface is foamy), add the liquid mixture into the dry mixture. Stir together for one minute using either a wooden spoon or a stand/handheld mixer with a dough hook. Dough will be shaggy.
- Add two tablespoons of olive oil into the dough and "knead" for about 5 minutes. Every once in a while, scrape down the sides of the bowl to help keep the dough cohesive. The dough will be sticky and wet.
- Grease another bowl with olive oil and pour the dough in, brushing a bit of olive oil on top. Cover and keep in a warm space, allowing the dough to double in size, approximately 2-3 hours.
- Once doubled, transfer risen dough to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and a thin coating of olive oil, and gently spread out the dough with a rubber spatula at even thickness. Cover again so the dough does not dry out while you prepare the toppings.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C or 350°F.
- Soak the salt pickled sakura in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes to rinse off the excess salt. Carefully remove blossoms from the bowl and gently pat dry. Do not squeeze dry, as this may damage the blossoms. If the blossoms are connected at the stem, you may wish to separate and slightly trim the stems.
- Sauté the onions on medium heat with the olive oil. Season with salt. When the onions are translucent and soft, sprinkle the sugar in and continue to saute for a couple of minutes, turning the heat off and setting aside.Take care to not brown the onions, as they will caramelize in the oven.
- Divide the camembert into about 9-10 small slices, keeping the outside rind intact.
- Ensure your hands are clean, and then drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil onto your fingers and over the pan of dough. Gently dimple the dough with your fingers and then evenly spread out the toppings across the pan, pushing some pieces in along the way. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and place into the oven for approximately 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown and the internal temperature of the focaccia comes to 85°C or 190°F.
- Cool for 30 minutes on a cooling rack and cut into even slices. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
Recipe available in our Baking: "Amai" Care Package
About the recipe creator and photographer: Yaz Gentry is a freelance recipe developer and food-lover based in Tokyo, Japan. Half-Japanese and half-American, she enjoys fusing together seasonal ingredients and dishes from both cultures as a reflection of her mixed heritage. You can follow her culinary adventures at www.meshibliss.com and @