Monday, August 13, 2012

Focaccia Bread

Come and Get It by Badfinger
Just like the song says, "If you want it, here it is, come and get it!"  And, although the song urges you to be quick about it, you don't have to hurry, the recipe will be here waiting for you.  However, you will want to hurry and make some up because it is so good and so versatile.  Now, once it's made, then that's when the hurry part comes into play because it won't last long.  A bread for every meal, it goes well with eggs, stands as the foundation for a delicious sandwich, and is content to play second string as a complement to your dinner.  It will go fast.  And then you get to make some more - and maybe come up with your own flavor profile!

When we dine out, my husband and I have very different approaches and mindsets as to how to attack the meal.  He's all for not eating too much of the "preamble" of bread, salad, and appetizers because he wants to save room for his dessert and main course - in that order.  This is such a logical strategy that I am amazed that I don't choose it for myself.  But, alas, I think very differently.


I'm a carbavore.  I rarely pass up a chance to have some bread.  When they place that bread basket on the table I like to begin with a long whifffff.  I really enjoy seeing what the restaurant has put together to entice me.  Then I begin the devouring process.  Depending upon my degree of hunger, this process can be either pretty or not so much - ranging from a lion on the Serengeti to a kitten lapping up it's milk from a saucer.  I'm thinking it's probably more often like the lion.  I can already see my husband nodding in agreement.

Whether it's to be dipped in olive oil or spread with butter, the bread is often my favorite part of the meal.  I really appreciate when an establishment goes to the trouble of making it on the premises.  But, honestly, I will eat it no matter.  Hot or cold, it's most likely going to be in my belly.  

I find that if a restaurant has tossed some variation of focaccia into their bread basket mix, it's usually the first option gone.  That's true no matter if it's just us dining or if we are with friends.  Focaccia always wins!  Whether the flavorings are mixed into the dough or strewn across the top, apparently we love those nuggets of goodness!

Last week I gave you the recipe for my Italian Club Sandwich and promised the recipe for the focaccia bread upon which it was built.  Well, here it is!

The crumb on this dough is a bit more tight than some focaccia and that's what makes it such a perfect base for a sandwich.  The term "crumb" refers to the consistency of the inside of bread after it is baked.  You'll notice that sandwich bread has very small holes in it's structure creating a smooth surface on which to spread your fillings.  Breads with really wet or loose dough usually end up giving you a crumb with large holes - nice for letting sauces or cheese ooze down into those open spaces.  Delicious,  yes, but, when used for a sandwich, translate into sandwich fillings dripping down through your fingers - not a feature that's usually enjoyed.

This dough is an easy mix and quick.  Depending on how much time, energy, and/or ingredients you have, you can make it as plain or as embellished as you like.  It's all good!

Focaccia Bread
makes one loaf
2 t. dry yeast (8 g)
1 c. warm water (240 mL)
2 T. sugar (25 g)
3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour (435 g)
1 1/2 t. kosher salt (9 g)
1/4 c. olive oil (60 mL), plus 2 T. (30 mL), divided
cornmeal for dusting

Toppings:
2 T. olive oil
1/2 onion, sliced
1 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped
1 t. oregano
1 t. basil

In a large mixing bowl, combine the warm water and the sugar and give a stir.  Sprinkle the yeast over the top and give it a stir just to start the conversation between the three ingredients.  Let it sit for a few minutes while you measure out your flour and salt into a separate bowl, whisking well to combine.  When you come back, you should see that the discussion has produced this lovely foamy scene.  If not, your yeast might be dead and I'd advise starting over with new yeast.
Attach the dough hook to your mixer and turn the mixer on to low.  Slowly add the flour and salt and mix on low.  As the dough starts to come together, add the 1/4 c. olive oil and continue to mix, increasing speed to medium high.  Let the dough continue to knead in the mixer for 7 - 10 minutes.  The dough should be very smooth with a strong gluten development.  

Use the remaining 2 T. of olive oil to grease a separate large bowl.  Turn the dough out into the  greased bowl and turn it over to coat the surface of the dough with the oil.  Cover and let rise until doubled in size - about an hour.

While the dough is rising, caramelize your onions in a saute pan using the olive oil, sliced onions, and salt.  Chop any herbs or other ingredients you plan on using for the toppings.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and prepare a sheet tray by lining it with parchment paper.  I give it a light spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with a dusting of cornmeal.

When the dough has doubled, turn it out onto the counter and shape into a round.  Place on the prepared sheet tray and cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, remove the plastic wrap and, using your fingers, dimple the top of the bread all over, creating little divots.  Add your herbs to the olive oil and mix together. 
Use a brush to evenly distribute the herb oil across the top of the loaf, letting it settle down into the little dimples you created with your fingers.  Add the caramelized onions and give a final sprinkling of some black pepper.
Bake for 15 - 20 minutes on the bottom rack in the oven.  Let cool on sheet tray for about five minutes, then move to a rack to cool further.







2 comments:

  1. Yummy Yummyness. LOOKS SO GOOD!

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    Replies
    1. You should give it a go! Your boys would love it - put on toppings they'd like!

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