Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Homemade Focaccia Bread and My Debut..

Before I get into this amazing post about the Focaccia bread I made, I wanted to take a moment to let you know where you can see some of my photograhs. I'm sure you all remember me entering and winning the photo contest hosted by Communal Global? Well I'm an official member there now! I still can't believe it. I'm going to be representing my life in The Netherlands and I hope you all take a moment to head over there to see the beautiful photos of all the ladies who contribute. It's amazing to see how similar yet different our lives are. I'm so nervous because those women can seriously take some amazing photos! So ok..lets talk bread.
  I made Focaccia bread!! I made it all by myself and it turned out perfectly!!! I am so amazed every single time a bread recipe turns out for me. I lack confidence big time when it comes to yeast and it takes me ages before I give a recipe a try, and then I ask my self what in the world took me so long! This is such a wonderful bread. I wish I was a creative writer and then I could describe the taste in a way that would leave you feeling like you just ate a slice of it yourself. It was my first time eating focaccia and I can assure you that it will not be my last time. The smell of olive oil and spices fills up your kitchen and moves into your house. When my son came home he said it smelled like we started our own bread shop. The recipe comes from Noble Pig and couldn't be easier(She also has step by step photos of making this). She made hers using a mixer but I did it by hand. 

On a side note, I learned something important along the way. The yeast I buy here has different directions than the yeast back home. The directions state to use the packet in a large bag of flour and to use it right away in a recipe..meaning I do not need to let it sit in warm water. I can dump everything together and begin mixing it. Also the packets here are slightly smaller and I needed to open up another one to get the correct amount to use in the recipe. I think this is why I have failed many times. There wasn't enough in the packet and I was using it wrong. Also this bread is best eaten warm out of the oven. I had some left over and it never tasted as good as when it was fresh out of the oven.

Focaccia Bread
1-3/4 cup Warm Water
1 PKG. Active Dry Yeast
1 TBL Sugar
5 cups Flour,plus additional for kneading
1 TBL Kosher Salt,plus more for Sprinkling. I used Sea Salt
1 cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, Divided

Combine warm water(by warm I mean body temp, should be able to place your finger in the water and not get burned and it should not feel cold),yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Put the bowl in a warm place until the yeast is bubbling and aromatic, atleast 15 minutes.

In a bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour,1 TBL kosher salt, 1/2 cup Olive oil and the yeast mixture on low speed. Once the dough has come together, continue to knead for 5-6 minutes on medium speed until it becomes smooth and soft. Give it a sprinkle of flour if the dough is really sticky and tacky.** If making by hand I went ahead and added the salt,olive oil,and the flour all at once. I mixed it with a wooden spoon until combined. I turned it onto a lightly floured surace and kneaded it for 5 minutes.**

Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly floured surface,then knead it a couple of times,sprinkling with flour. The dough is a more tacky kind of dough so rolling it around in some flour a few times until you can handle it is normal. Coat the inside of large bowl with olive oil and place dough in bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place until the dough doubles in size,1-2 hours.

Coat a jelly roll pan(it must have sides) with remaining 1/2 cup oilve oil. Do not worry that there is to much oil. I thought for sure there was waaay to much..but focaccia is an oily crusted bread, wich is why it's so good. The oil will be soaked up into the bread during baking,making it delicious.

Put the dough onto the jelly roll pan and begin pressing it out to fit the size of the pan. Turn the dough over to coat the other side with olive oil. Continue to stretch the dough to fit the pan(it will eventually go into place). As you are doing so,spread your fingers out and make finger holes all through the dough...make sure you do that to create the characteristic craggy looking focaccia. If you don't make the holes the finished product will be smooth.

Put the dough in a warm place until it has doubled in size,about one hour. **I went ahead and topped the bread at this point. I sprinkled it all over with parmesan cheese..from a can.*gasp* and then I sprinkled pizza seasonings all over and then I put it in the oven to double in size.**
  Pre heat oven to 425 or 220 celcius. Sprinkle the top either with more kosher salt or top it however you like;lightly drizzle with a little oil on top. Bake the dough until the top of the loaf is golden brown, about 20-30 minute(mine took 20). It does brown fast towards the ed so keep your eye on it. Remove from oven and resist the urge to tear into it right away.
  Let it cool keeping the steam inside and intact,leave you with a very moist bread. Carefully remove from pan whole after it has been out of the oven for 10 minutes. I went ahead and sliced mine up into squares.
   Just beautiful!!