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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Focaccia

There are few things quite so satisfying as baking homemade bread.  But, let's be honest, I rarely have the foresight or inclination these days to plan ahead a day in advance and go through all the steps.  As such, it's been quite a while since I made bread.  So long, in fact, that when Jon saw this he asked where it was from, ate some, and commented that it was good, like real bread.  I don't even know what that means, but I chose to take it as a compliment.  My little bread monster could barely wait for it to cool down before digging in himself, but he is an easy win with anything freshly baked.

There are several great reasons to make focaccia.  It can all be done in one day.  It's essentially a glamorous version of pizza dough.  It makes a whole tray full.  It has an olive oil crust.  I could go on, but I don't think I need to.


Focaccia
recipe based on Anne Burrell

Total time: About 3 hours
Prep: 20 minutes
Inactive: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Baking: 20-25 minutes

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups warm water
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar
5 cups all purpose flour, plus any additional for kneading
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
3/4 cup olive oil, divided

Directions:
Dissolve the sugar in warm water in the bowl of your mixer.  Sprinkle in yeast and allow to sit until bubbling, 10-15 minutes.
Add flour, kosher salt and 1/2 cup olive oil to the yeast mixture and mix with the dough hook on low speed.
This is a good step for your little helper, especially if you turn around and he has already started scooping flour.

Once dough has come together, increase to medium speed (4) and knead for 5-6 minutes until it forms a soft ball.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand a few times, forming into a ball.
Place dough in a large bowl drizzled with olive oil and cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel.
Put bowl in a warm place (I put mine on top of the refrigerator).  Allow to rise until doubled in size, at least one hour.  If you are going about your day, it's ok to let this rise go longer.
Coat a jelly roll pan (baking sheet with sides) with a layer of olive oil.
Put the dough in the pan and press it out to fit the size of the pan.  Once dough is stretched to fill the pan, use your fingers to poke holes in it.
Put the dough in a warm place for a second rise until it has doubled in size, about an hour.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Sprinkle the top of the focaccia with coarse salt, parmesan cheese, or a mixture of herbs (or all three).
Bake until the top is golden brown, 20-25 minutes.
Allow to cool before cutting and serving.

This lasted for a few days, even around here in carb heaven.  One night we made sandwiches with pesto chicken, tomatoes, sliced mozzarella and a drizzle of balsamic dressing.  So good!





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