Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Focaccia [Zack]

Focaccia: the name of my favorite bread and Matt's least favorite song. When we were little kids driving to go out to eat Italian food, Nick and I would sing the word "FoOOoocaaAAaaaccia!!!!" as loud as we could in a falsetto voice to Matt (mind you Nick and I still hadn't hit puberty so I guess everything we sang was falsetto, but you know what I mean). This really pissed him off, which unsurprisingly made it a lot of fun for Nick and me.

Besides laughing whenever I hear the name, I've always wanted to make focaccia because it's ideal for sandwiches.  The luxurious amounts of olive oil and fun ingredients on top always compliment whatever you want to put in a sandwich.  I took this method from Jamie Oliver’s awesome cooking show, The Naked Chef.  Boy I hope this website gets a lot of hits because I just typed naked.

A quick note on this recipe and pictures: Sometimes things don’t go quite as planned. I was very excited to use sun dried tomatoes on top of the baked focaccia, but I didn't re-hydrate them first. They burnt because they had no water in them and I had to pick them off to make the pictures look good.  I replaced the tomatoes with rosemary in the recipe because that version will work much better.  Lesson learned!

Shout out to Ma Patel - I know I have owed you this recipe for a long time, but here it is!


Start by making fancy flavored oil. Dice some garlic and add some bruised rosemary (or re-hydrated sun dried tomatoes) to a bowl. Hit the rosemary with something blunt to bruise the leaves and release the natural oils.  Add to a bowl and glug a bunch of good olive oil on top and let it stand while you prepare your bread.

In a cup combine a packet of yeast with ¼ a cup of warmish water (110 F). Add in a heaping tablespoon of honey so the yeast can feed and get happy. Let stand for 10 minutes so it bubbles and fizzes.

In a large metal bowl, combine the flour and salt and mix. Make a cavity in the center and add in the activated yeast.

Start mixing with one hand and slowly pouring the remaining 1 cup of water in with the other. Knead the flour mixture until it doesn't stick to your hands. Continue to knead slowly for 5 minutes or until it’s silky smooth.

Place onto a cutting board with an overturned bowl covering it so it doesn't dry out. Let the bread rise for 30 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Punch down the bread to get all of the air bubbles out and roll it out to the shape of your baking dish. You can use anything, even a bottle of wine....


Lightly flour the bottom of your baking dish and fit the dough into the container, making sure that the thickness is even all around. Then, take about 1/3 cup of your flavored oil and pour it over the top of the bread making sure to include the rosemary and garlic. Take the tips of your fingers and make a bunch of indentations in the bread (not all the way through to the bottom) so the oil can get in there and flavor the bread while it's baking.

Let the bread rise a second time for 30 minutes or so. Sprinkle the top with sea salt just before baking.

Bake at 200C/400F for 15 minutes until the top is nicely browned.

1 lb flour
1 and 1/4 cups water
1 packet of yeast
1 heaping T of honey
1/3 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves (or more if you can handle it)
5 sprigs of rosemary

The water and flour combination is approximate - use your judgement when you are mixing it together with your hands and slowly add the water until the dough doesn't stick to your fingers and is balling up nicely.  You can always add a touch more flour or water if needed.

Try making a sandwich using roasted eggplant, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, and ricotta – it’s sublime!

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