But Sugar is Sweeter

Adaptable Focaccia

There are a lot of recipes for focaccia out there, but I wanted one that had simple ingredients, simple instructions and a short rising time.  I knew I wanted to make focaccia to go with the strawberry goat cheese salad we were having for dinner, but of course I didn’t start looking for a specific recipe until about 5 pm the day I wanted to eat it.  This bread it perfect because it didn’t require multiple rises, can be ready in a little over an hour – and  still came out wonderfully.  Then again, how wrong can you really go with fresh bread? To make sure I still got an airy focaccia, I actually preheated the oven for a few minutes, then turned it off, and then put the bread inside the oven to rise.  It wasn’t hot by any means, but it was definitely warmer than the ambient air, and this helped the bread rise a little faster.

I thought about halving this recipe, because I was wondering what just the two of us were going to do with so much bread, but I figured, its only flour and water so I might as well make the whole thing and then freeze what we don’t use.  Well of course I should know by now that bread will never go to waste in this house! John actually cut the focaccia down the middle and made a wonderful looking sandwich for lunch.  I included a variety of ideas for topping this bread, because it is very adaptable.  I went with a  few caramelized onions, fresh minced garlic, salt, pepper and Herbes de Provence, but I think next time I would up the caramelized onion to a full small onion, because I barely noticed the flavor.  As soon as the weather gets nicer I can’t wait to use some fresh rosemary  from my porch garden, mixed with some lemon zest to the mix to give it a summery feel.  I don’t really think you can go wrong with whatever you put on this bread – so have fun!

Adaptable Focaccia

Prep time: 15 minutes + 5 minutes              Rise time: 45 minutes + 15 minutes                          Bake Time: 20 minutes

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons rapid rise yeast or 1 packet
  • 1 cup warm water + 2 Tablespoons
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups flour plus more as needed
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil + some to brush on top

Topping Ideas

  • Fresh rosemary and lemon zest
  • Caramelized onion and garlic with shredded parmesan
  • Kalamata olives and feta cheese with scallions
  • Herbes de Provence, salt, pepper and parmesan
  • Any combination of the above

1. Warm the 1 c. water to about 110º.  Add the yeast and sugar to the water, and let sit for a few minutes. (This proofs the yeast to make sure you get a airy, and quick rise)

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook attachment, add the water/yeast/sugar mixture.  Slowly add the flour with the mixer on a low speed.

3. Mix the salt with about 2 T. water (just to start the dissolving) and then add to the mixer.

4. Add the 1/4 cup olive oil, and turn the mixer up to medium (2-4 on a Kitchen Aid).

5. Knead the dough for 7-8 minutes, until smooth.  If the dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl, and not forming a nice ball, add a little bit more flour and continue to knead.  *At this point I also preheated the oven to 350, only for a few minutes.

6. Remove the dough from the mixer, and place in a well oiled bowl.  Turn the dough over to slightly coat in oil, and cover with plastic wrap.  (The oil prevents the dough from forming a “crusty skin”, which is more common if you are having the dough rise in an extra warm place).

7. With the oven now turned OFF, place the bowl of dough in the oven or in another warm place, and let rise for 45 minutes.

8.  Once doubled in size, remove the dough from the oven, and using your hands, flatten the dough about a 10×12 inch rectangle.  It should be around 1/2 inch thick.

9. Place the dough rectangle on a greased cookie sheet, cover with plastic wrap or a towel and let rest/rise for at least 15 minutes (longer is fine).

10. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and you can get your toppings together.  If you are caramelizing onions, this would be the time to do it.  Or chop up your rosemary, shred your parmesan, or zest your lemon.

12. Brush the top of the bread with olive oil, sprinkle with a little bit of salt.  Using your finger, press down on the top of the bread 10-20 times to create dimples.  Top with toppings of choice.

13. Bake in the 400° oven for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Recipe adapted from Tyler Florence, with some insight from Pink Parsley.
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