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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Focaccia

This is a wonderful, delicious bread to make. If you have a stand mixer, it's easy peasy. I love its versatility. I especially love it plain, fresh out of the oven. Once it's cooled, it's great dipped in balsamic vinegar and oil. If you have a panini press, then you can make some of the best sandwiches around with this stuff. And it takes mere minutes of your time to get it going.

Mix together the water, yeast, sugar, oil , and the first batch of flour. Mix on medium-low with a paddle attachment in a stand mixer until the dough is very elastic... maybe 6-8 minutes. It should become very stringy as it becomes more elastic.

Stop the mixer and switch to a dough hook. Add the remaining flour and salt. Knead the dough on medium-low for another few minutes until the dough is smooth. It will still be fairly sticky and will never quite pull away from the bottom of the mixing bowl.

Spray a bowl with oil and mound the dough inside. Spray the top of the dough with oil and then cover with plastic wrap to rise for an hour or until the dough doubles in size.

I kind of forgot about the dough for a bit, so it rose more than double... but it's not really a big deal. I just knocked the dough down and proceeded as normal.

Dump the dough out onto an 11 x 17 inch baking sheet lined with parchment. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil on the top so you can easily spread the dough out. Just use your hands to spread the dough out to the edges of the pan. If it springs back too much, just let the dough sit for a few minutes so it can relax enough for you to spread it out.

Once it's spread out, let it rise, covered, for thirty minutes to get a little puffy. Then, remove the cover and drizzle a little more oil and use your finger to dimple the surface. You can let it go at that or sprinkle your choice of toppings on it before baking. In this case, I used shredded Parmesan cheese, basil, and sea salt, but you can use onions, sun dried tomatoes, garlic, or whatever else sounds good to you.

Bake in a 400 degree F oven for 15-20 minutes, until it is golden brown. Use the parchment to remove the loaf from the pan onto a rack or board to cool. Ideally, you want to let it cool completely before cutting... if you can wait that long! I use a pizza cutter to cut this bread; I think it is the quickest way to get the nicest cuts. This bread can also be frozen and saved for later. I often bake one loaf and freeze half for a later date. You can even reheat this bread in the toaster (be sure it's thawed out first if it was frozen) for that fresh from the oven taste.


Focaccia
Yield: one 11x17 inch flat loaf

1 1/2 cup warm water
1 TBS instant yeast
1 TBS sugar
4 TBS olive oil
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt

Mix together the first five ingredients in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until the dough is very elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Switch to a dough hook and add the remaining flour and salt. Knead another few minutes on medium-low speed until the dough is smooth. It will still be sticky and will never quite pull away from the bottom of the bowl. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and then let sit in a warm place to rise until the dough doubles, about an hour.

Knock down the dough and let it rest for ten minutes. Dump onto a parchment lined 11 x 17 inch sheet pan. Drizzle a little oil on the top and use your hands to spread the dough out to cover the pan. Let dough rise, covered, for thirty minutes until it is slightly puffy.

Drizzle a little more oil over the surface and use your finger to dimple the surface. Sprinkle on any toppings you might like (such as garlic, basil, sun dried tomatoes, Parmesan, etc.). Bake at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool before cutting and serving.

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