Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Easy Focaccia Recipe: My First Bread Making Success

I don't bake. Not as a rule or anything but I'm really not comfortable doing it and I much prefer to make things up as I go along, which does not work well when baking. I've made the occasional batch of cookies before but we don't eat a lot of sweets, so I rarely take the time to make desserts. If we're craving something sweet, we usually head down to Local Yogurt, which is the most delicious frozen yogurt I've had (and I have had lots of frozen yogurt). So sweet baked goods aside, I have always wanted to explore making some savory baked goods. There's nothing better than fresh baked, homemade bread and I want to be able to do that. But the yeast and the rising and the kneading makes me nervous so I haven't ventured much into the world of bread making. I made a loaf of wheat bread once and it tasted ok but was kind of off. Definitely not something to write home about.

One week in my cooking class we made rosemary focaccia. I love focaccia and thought it would be fun to try at home. However, the recipe was pretty long and complicated, involving various rising, kneading and resting times. And then one day I was scanning the headlines on and came across a very simple looking recipe for focaccia.  The blog Evil Chef Mom profressed to have a simple, surefire recipe for focaccia that was much easier than the one we made in class. I decided to give it a try as the worst that would happen would be a few cups of wasted flour and not too much wasted time. I am so glad I did! I basically did each step when I had a few minutes during the day and the result was a delicious, chewy focaccia bread that went perfectly with the carrot ginger soup I made for dinner (that recipe to come). The leftover bread heats up nicely to go with soup or sliced in half for sandwiches. The great thing about focaccia is that it's basically a blank canvas to put any flavors on top that you like. I did one half with simple sea salt and the other with Parmesan and black pepper. Chopped rosemary would be great as would sundried tomatoes and olives...or whatever sounds good to you! So if you are as nervous about baking as I am, this focaccia is a great place to start.

  • 1 package (1/4 oz) yeast
  • 2 cups warm water, divided
  • 4 cups of flour (I used 1 cup whole wheat and 3 All Purpose)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt, plus more for sprinkling on top
  • olive oil
  • any toppings you like
Dissolve the yeast in one cup of warm water.
Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl.
Pour in the water with the yeast and one more cup of warm water into the flour.
Mix together with floured hands until it all comes together. Mine was very sticky but shape it into a ball as best as possible.
Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap or with a kitchen towel.
Let the dough rise for at least 2 hours or up to 24.
Cover a cookie sheet with olive oil (preferably good olive oil as you want the taste in the dough).
Spread the dough out over the cookie sheet (it might not meet all of the edges, which is ok).
Punch down holes in the dough with your finger and allow it to rise again for about 30-45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 475F.
When the dough has risen, punch holes again with your finger.
Sprinkle the dough with a bit more olive oil and salt, as well as any toppings you like.
Bake the bread in the top 1/3 of the oven for 15-20 minutes.
Check the dough around 10 minutes and if it's starting to get brown on top, move it to a lower rack.
Remove from the oven and let cool for a bit before slicing and serving.

For a printable recipe click here

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