It is the first week of my 2010 Bread baking Challenge and I decided to kick everything off with Focaccia. There are a couple of reasons for this choice, 1) I had all of the ingredients on hand, 2) I had never made focaccia before and 3) I thought it would be a nice complement to the pasta dinner we had planned for this week.
What is Focaccia? For those of you that do not know focaccia is an Italian flat bread. A very tasty Italian flat bread. For the challenge I decided to use the Focaccia recipe from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook.
The bread was very soft. The Parmesan on top gave the loaves a very pretty golden brown color. Initially I felt like the finished product could have used a little more salt, but Luke thought it was perfect as is. We served the bread in wedges with a small plate of olive oil, salt and pepper. In my opinion eating the bread with the olive oil salt and pepper took away the need to have more salt in the dough.
This recipe took less than 30 minutes of hands on time. The recipe called for a double rise that totaling about 1 hour, although I made it on a cool day so it may have taken a bit longer than the recipe called for based on the temperature in my kitchen. After the final rise the bread bakes for 15-20. Our loaves were in the oven for about 17 minutes. So all in all making this focaccia took about 2 hours from start to finish.
Each ingredient in the Betty Crocker Cookbook’s Focaccia recipe was in my cupboards. I love it when I can make a recipe without having to run to the store. The instructions were very easy to follow, making this a friendly recipe for beginners. Baking your own focaccia does not require any special baking tools or pans, if you have a bowl, a couple cookie sheets or pizza pans and your hands you will do just fine.
Although we enjoyed eating focaccia I am not sure it is the most versatile of bread loaves, although the recipe states that it can also make bread sticks. It was a great addition to our pasta dinner and could potentially be made into a great sandwich by cutting the loaf in half, but I am having trouble thinking of many other ways to serve it besides as a side or a special sandwich.
So will we make it again? Definitely. Maddy ate almost a 1/3 of a loaf by herself, she loved it. Luke and I both spent half our meal talking about how much we like the bread and the next day Luke reported that he was very happy to have some focaccia in his lunch box to accompany his lunch of leftover pasta. The only downside is that the members of the Evolving Mommy household will still need sandwich bread for each week so focaccia will be more of a special treat than a weekly bread.
Next weeks challenge bread: Potato Bread
Focaccia – From Betty Crocker’s Cookbook
2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary or 1 tablespoon dried rosemary leaves crumbled
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 package regular or quick active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup very warm water (120 to 130 degrees)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup grates Parmesan cheese
Mix 1 cup of the flour, the rosemary, sugar, salt, and yeast in large bowl. Add tablespoons of oil and the warm water. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in enough remaining flour until dough is soft and leaves sides of bowl.
Place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead 5-8 minutes or until dough is smooth and springy. Place dough in large bowl greased with shortening, turning dough to grease all sides. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place about 30 minutes or until almost double. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.
Grease 2 cookie sheets or 12-inch pizza pans with small amount of oil.
Gently push fist into dough to deflate. Divide dough in half. Shape each half into a flattened 10-inch round on cookie sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap lightly sprayed with cooking spray and let rise in warm place about 30 minutes or until double.
Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Gently make depressions about 2 inches apart in dough with fingers. Carefully brush dough with 2 tablespoons olive oil; sprinkle with cheese. bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or cool.