Focaccia for sharing!
Hola! It's been a little while, I know. I was preparing a cheesecake recipe post for this week, but since I made that one for my husband's birthday, between cooking a ton of things for the surprise party and decorating I realized too late (meaning when there was no cake left, heh) that none of the photos I took of the cheesecake were nice enough for sharing. So, as I am not going to cook another 9.5 inch cheesecake for just the two of us, even if I'm tempted to, I'm sharing another recipe I tried this week! My small springform pans should arrive anytime soon so I can shoot new photos with a tiny and cute version of the cheesecake. So until then, here is a yummy and easy to personalize focaccia recipe!
For a little "backstory", I've been wanting to use the bread hook attachments on my hand mixer for a while, so I got some dry yeast on the market and was super excited to make my first bread, when I realized most of the recipes required bread flour and not all-purpose flour. That usually never stops me from experimenting, but since it was my very first time making bread I decided to look for a type of bread that required no special flour. And that's when focaccia comes in!
- 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 packet (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 cup warm water (105-110°F or 40-45°C)
- 1 tsp salt (if you have coarse salt, the better)
- 2+ tbsp olive oil
- Desired dry spices (this may include oregano, basil, rosemary, pepper, thyme, garlic, whatever you like)
- Desired toppings (black olives, shredded cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, onions, grated parmesan cheese, and so on)
1. In a cup, mix the yeast and at least 1/4 cup of the warm water. Add sugar and let it sit for 10 minutes. If your yeast is alive and healthy, it should foam up and bubble, but if there are no bubbles your yeast is probably expired and you should buy a new batch.
2. In a bowl, mix together flour, salt and dry spices. Pour the foamy yeast mix in along the rest of the water and a tablespoon of olive oil.
3. Using your hands or a spatula, combine all the ingredients and start kneading. You can knead in the bowl or on top a floured surface. If you knead with your hands, it should take about 20 minutes to get the dough is smooth and elastic (if you poke it, it should "bounce" back to shape), if you use dough hooks it should take about 10 minutes.
4. Return your dough to the bowl (or if you did the kneading there, leave it there) and add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Turn the dough around until it is coated with oil.
5. Damp a tea towel and use it to cover to bowl, let the dough rise in a warm place for at least 25 minutes. It should almost double in size.
1. SPECIAL NOTE: You can decide if you want to make this bread in as little as an hour or let it be an all-afternoon thing. I'll add the rising minimums but you can always let the dough keep rising for hours if you want to. I read that the rising intensifies the flavors, but I can't tell for sure if it is a subtle or dramatic difference, I need to make more tests.
6. Drizzle some olive oil on a baking sheet and uncover your bowl. The dough will be airy and even a bit bubbly, punch it down and place it on the baking sheet.
7. Time to fight the dough! Spread it in a rectangular shape as much as you can, trying to maintain a half inch thickness (so you can sandwich it later, yesss). The dough will retract a lot at first, but try to keep the shape as best as you can.
8. OPTIONAL STEP: you can make a second rising or skip it all together, I had the time so I covered the baking sheet with a damp towel and let it sit for half an hour. This extra rise gave me a larger area to add the topping since my dough kept fighting back and retracting my shaping.
9. Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C).
10. Using your hands, poke small rows of indentations in the dough about half an inch apart, then use a fork to pinch some extra markings as well. This will help the dough release all the air and bake nicely.
11. Time to add the toppings! I used black olives, sun-dried tomatoes and a bit of mozzarella cheese. Add all your desired toppings and drizzle some olive oil on top one last time. You can also throw in a dash of coarse salt for extra crunch.
12. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.
You can enjoy the focaccia as it is and just dip it in a plate with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, or slice it in half and make some delicious sandwiches with cold cuts and cheeses, or hummus and veggies, or a bit of both; your choice! I recommend eating this fresh or the next day, because it sadly doesn't age well, by the third day it will be a bit too hard to chew.
Hope you can enjoy this versatile bread and share it with your loved ones, because it makes a nice big loaf!