May 27, 2009

Focaccia for Dinner

One of the facets of baking that I haven't explored much is bread. Bread using yeast to be more specific. There's a certain lore that accompanies bread making that might turn one off to it. Funny that I wasn't nearly as scared to try my hand at it than I was at making a pie crust. But I will admit that I still stand around the yeast bowl when it's activating asking, "Is it working? Did I do it right? Is it foaming enough?"

Focaccia is one of the easier breads to start with. You usually only have to let it rise once and it takes little to no kneading. To put it simply, if I've managed to pull it off, you'll have no problem. We made a batch for dinner recently adding some pizza-like toppings to make it more hearty. Serve it with a salad and you've got an easy dinner. We also had asparagus 'cause I can't seem to kick my farmer's market asparagus habit. It's just too good.

Hearty Dinner Focaccia
focaccia recipe courtesy Ezra Pound Cake
toppings free-styled

Focaccia Dough:
1 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
1 package (1/4 oz) active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/2 extra virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting

1 yellow onion, carmelized (couple of teaspoons of oil and/or butter needed)
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped kalamata or green olives, or a mixture
feta cheese, sprinkled on to taste
4 cloves garlic, chopped
rosemary, fresh if you have it
coarsely ground black pepper
coarse sea salt

In a large bowl combine water, yeast and honey. Stir to dissolve and allow to activate until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add oil and salt to the yeast mixture. Gradually add the flour using a pastry cutter to gently incorporate. Once the dough begins to form and pull away from the sides of the bowl, dump out onto floured surface and knead the dough for 5 minutes. Form into a ball (dough should be smooth to touch) and place in a large lightly oiled bowl; turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm area until doubled in volume, about an hour.

Meanwhile, start a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon each of olive oil and butter. Chop onion into strips and place in skillet. Sprinkle some salt over onions and allow to slowly carmelize in the pan, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes. Onions should be golden brown and soft when finished. Chop tomatoes and olives in half. Mince garlic cloves.

Preheat the oven to 425F. Lightly grease a baking pan. I used a 9x13 pan to create a sturdier crust for the toppings. You can also use a 11x17 jelly roll pan for a thinner crust. Punch down the dough and spread into baking pan of choice. Dimple the surface with your fingertips and distribute toppings evenly over the surface. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and place in the oven for about 25 minutes.



Yeah, this was pretty awesome. Mich thought it needed more salt. I wanted more olives. Jessie said, "mmmmmm. I'm drunk", then nodded off.