Focaccia Bread


This was my first attempt before major bread baking and I thought this would be easier to handle than take on something complex ( to me at least )  as baking bread.

I have never been very fond of or attracted to bread baking as the yeast plays truant sometimes by giving disappointing results and you end up dumping the dough.

Working with yeast is really not my cup of tea or so I  thought till I decided to give Focaccia a try and it was  a great success and gives me confidence to move higher to bread baking later on.

Focaccia is a flat bread baked popular in Italy  and usually topped with a variety of herbs, flavors and other ingredients.It really is a more of a customized bread where the basic flat bread follows a recipe and the topping is upto you.

Usually seasoned with olive oil,herbs, cheese, vegetables. Focaccia dough is similar in texture and style to a pizza dough but typically rolled out or pressed  by hand.The top is dotted with fingers creating little wells to relieve the bubbling  on the surface of the bread.. Olive oil is spread over the top to retain moisture.


Recipes containing  all purpose flour always tempts me to do it my way by including more of whole wheat and less of all purpose flour.. You can choose the flour you want. That is why you see in the pics my Focaccia is more hearty looking , darker but not dense and has a great nutty taste too as I included whole wheat flour with bran .  I decided to be bolder and see the outcome. I wasn't disappointed.

The yeast worked beautifully, the dough rose well and I packed quite a punch, made the well, liberally slathered the herbs, flavors and drizzled olive oil into the pits and felt quite like a seasoned baker working the dough on the flour smeared counter. I knew this was going to work and it did!


Now to savor the pics of my work. Am not a accomplished food photographer yet but have managed to get some decent shots.





















































Ingredients:


5 cups flour  ( I used a combination of whole heat and all purpose flour like 70 -30 You can use only all purpose flour too if you choose.)

1 2/3 cups lukewarm water
1 package active dry yeast (1 tablespoon)
 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup olive oil    plus 3 tablespoons for the top of the bread
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning or any preferred seasoning of your choice.
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Stir together water and yeast in a mixing bowl and allow to stand until yeast is dissolved, about 5 minutes. 

Add 5 cups flour, 1/4 cup oil, and salt and beat with paddle attachment at medium speed until a dough forms. 

Switch to a dough hook and knead dough at medium speed until soft, smooth, and sticky, about 3 minutes.


Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead in 1 to 2 tablespoons more flour. Knead dough (it will still be slightly sticky), then transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and turn dough to coat with oil.

Keep the dough covered in a bowl  and let it rise. This will take around 45 minutes. After 45 minutes , take the dough out and Press dough evenly into a generously oiled 15- by 10- by 1-inch baking pan. Let dough rise, covered, until doubled, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Stir together Italian seasoning and remaining 3 tablespoons oil. With fingertips, make shallow indentations all over dough. Brush with herbed oil, letting it pool in indentations. 

Sprinkle sea salt evenly over focaccia and bake until golden, about 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Immediately invert a rack and flip bread, then turn right side up. 

Serve warm or at room temperature with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Suggestions:


A flavoured oil  can be made  with rosemary, thyme and garlic heated cooked gently in good extra virgin olive oil for 6-7mins and then cooled. You don't have to do this as it tastes great with just the olive oil... but  recommended ! . 150-200ml should be about right, save leftovers to make salad dressing with... 

Recommended toppings for Focaccia bread:


For the Balsamic onion topping fry sliced onions,thyme leaves in 2 tbsp of olive oil over low heat for 5 minutes , add balsamic vinegar and reduce for a minute , then allow to cool.


For Basil, cherry tomato topping, roughly chop basil leaves and pop in bowl with cherry tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle olive oil and a drop of white wine vinegar .  Add garlic and mix well.

For   three cheese topping  recommended you can use:

30 g Taleggio cheese   ( Taleggio cheese is a  washed rind and smear-ripened Italian cheese that is named after Val Taleggio .The cheese has a strong aroma, but its flavor is comparatively mild with an unusual fruity tang. Its crust is thin.)

1 small log goat's cheese
1 handful Parmesan cheese, grated
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves picked

Just break up the cheese and spread all over,sprinkle rosemary leaves and drizzle olive oil.

After my success with Focaccia I realized it was an easy kind of bread and totally fuss free and very forgiving as you can flatten it out the way you like with a thick crust or a thinner base almost pizza like.

The key was to get the ingredients right, the yeast to froth well and the dough to rise. The rest is your design. This makes for a good meal, a dinner or even smaller slices cut for sandwiches .
Enjoy the way you want.