Hi, my name is Kalley Howard, and I am a bread addict.
Most mornings I wake up, grab a cup of coffee, and start on a bread recipe for the day. Yes, you read that right and presumed correctly. My little family runs through homemade bread like the Roadrunner evading Wile E. Coyote. I love making it, and we ALL love eating it. There is just something totally relaxing about knowing one portion of your cooking is already done before the little ones wake up and start asking what's for breakfast. (I cannot wait for the day when I can say," You want fried eggs and bacon? Ok, go make it.")
Focaccia is one of the simplest and most delicious breads I bake. Consisting simply of water, yeast, flour, salt, a smidgen of sugar, and a healthy dose of olive oil, most everyone has the ingredients to make focaccia on hand. The large quantity of olive oil I previously mentioned provides this Italian bread a moist texture with a delightful salty crunch on the outside. Traditionally, garlic, rosemary, and coarse salt form the main flavors, but this Italian bread can basically be molded into any flavor your little dreaming tase buds can muster.
Fresh vegetables, cheeses, spices, herbs, caramelized onions, roasted garlic.... the possibilities are endless for focaccia.
*A slight word of caution!*
If the toppings have too much liquid inside of them, the focaccia will not bake properly. This is not a restriction, it's just that toppings such as green chilis, tomatoes, zucchini, and olives should be squeezed like they owe you rent before being used.
Finally, be patient. The dough really needs to rise to DOUBLE during the first proofing. If punched out too early, it will be a sad brittle mess.
Ok, lets roll up our sleeves and get into it! Prepare your tastebuds and stand mixers, because I have a sneaking suspension that this recipe will be put into your normal rotation.
Bakes at 425
Yields 12 servings
Time to prepare is about 3-4 hours
1 1/2 cups of luke warm water (100-110 degrees)
2 1/2 teaspoons of active dry yeast
1 tablespoon of sugar
5 cups of bread flour
3 teaspoons of coarse salt
1/2 cup of olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Toppings if desired
In a countertop mixer with a dough hook attachment, mix together the yeast, water, and sugar for about ten seconds. Let the yeast activate for 5-10 minutes or until bubbles start to reach the top of the liquid.
Add in the flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/3 cup of olive oil. Turn the mixer on low and let the dough come together. When the dough starts to stick together, turn the mixer on medium speed and kneed together for about 5 minutes. Take the bowl off of the stand mixer and pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the top of the dough. Roll the dough in the olive oil and cover the sides of the bowl, also in oil. When the bowl is completely covered in oil, cover the bowl and set it to the side.
Let the dough rise for about an hour to an hour an a half, or until the dough has doubled in size and does not bounce back when poked.
Take a baking sheet and rub down the inside of the pan with 2 more tablespoons of olive oil. Place the dough onto the sheet pan, and begin to use your fingers to press the dough throughout the pan in an even layer. When the dough covers the entire bottom of the pan, dimple the top of it with your fingers and drizzle lightly with more olive oil.
Preheat the oven to 425.
Sprinkle or arrange with toppings of your choice and the remaining 2 teaspoons of coarse salt. Let the dough rise for about 30-45 minuets, or until nearly doubled AGAIN.
Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until the top is a rich golden brown.
Let the bread cool slightly before cutting and serve!! Drizzle again with olive oil, just for giggles.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator and heat it back up in a skillet.
It goes swimmingly with a glass of Yoder Cellars Giddy up, by the way.