Saturday, February 24, 2007
Focaccia: Quick, Easy and Just Plain Good
When a friend our mine gave me a cookbook recently, I made their focaccia recipe, I was mildy pleased by the results. But the bread was to dense, and the recipe called for too much salt. As we all know, yeast growth is inhibited by salt, leading to flat bread. Also, I always think of focaccia as having a dense crust and a soft inside, and this stuff was well, just sort of dense. So I experimented a little, and now have a party tested focaccia (thanks to all for your comments!) that is easy to make and extremely tasty. Although I prefer a simple topping of garlic and oil, I'm sure it would be easy enough to "fancify" with Parmesan, tomato slices, or some other such thing.
The only other thing is to use Quick Rise Yeast, which rises much faster than traditional "active-dry" yeast. I like Red Star Brand the best, although Fleischmann's has much better website for recipes, etc. Although you can hand knead this, I use a food processor and, unless you own a stand-up mixer, you should, too. Suffering only goes so far.
Red star yeast quick rise, one packet
5 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 cups water plus a bit (should be warm, but not real hot)
tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons rosemary
2 tablespoons thyme
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
EQUIPMENT YOU WILL NEED
Jelly Roll, greased with olive oil
Bowl to hold dough, greased
Food Processor with bread blade if available (regular blade works fine, too)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix two cups flour, sugar and two cups water into food processor. Mix until you get a smooth dough. Let sit while you prepare the next step. Add the rest of the flour, thyme and rosemary together. Add the oil to the processor, and mix for a few seconds. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and knead dough in processor. Once you get what should be soft ball that pulls away from the side of the bowl (barely), let it knead for about 90 seconds. Remove dough, and form into ball. Place in bowl and cover with saran wrap. When it doubles (30 minutes or so), punch it down lightly and place in jelly roll. Gently pushing dough with your fingers, spread it evenly over jelly roll. The dough will feel like pizza dough. Then, lightly tap the dough with your fingertips so that you have a "dimpled" look to it. Cover with Saran Wrap until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
While the dough is rising, make the topping by combining the garlic, salt and olive oil. The mix should taste slightly to salty. Adjust as you please. Add more oil if you feel like it.
When the dough has risen, tap in with your fingers once more and place in oven. After about 10 minutes, open the oven and cover the focaccia with the topping. Use a spoon or brush to smooth it out. The whole thing is ready in about 25 to 30 minutes. It will be brown on the outside and have a hollow sound when thumped. Serve quickly.