Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Homemade Focaccia Bread!

I've been making a lot of homemade stuff lately--branching out my culinary repertoire. I also have a lot of self-rising flour leftover from some recipe from a long time ago, so I needed to make something that used a lot of flour.

I had a foray into the wonderful world of bread this winter when I was getting over being sick. I was stir-crazy with some serious cabin fever so I decided to bake some bread. It didn't turn out that great. The center was still doughy. Yeast is scary stuff.

But I figured, hey, what the hell? I'll give it another shot, this time with a different kind of bread. I have great memories of the focaccia I had in Italy. It was chewy, very salty and just ... transcendent. Of course, the fact that I was eating it in Italy contributed greatly to its allure.

I got the recipe from my ghetto binder that has various recipes copied from the Internet or torn out of magazines hole-punched and thrown in in no particular order. My mom clipped this recipe from her local paper about 5-6 years ago.

Here we have the ball of dough. Let's call him Marcello.

Here we have Marcello hangin' out, rising away.

Here Marcello has risen significantly, doubling in size. Oh lord. This could get dirty.

I put Marcello in his place by squishing him into a circle and then poking holes and rubbing oil all over him. Uh oh. I said it could get dirty. You didn't believe me?

And here he's done! After I took him out of the oven, I sprinkled on some kosher salt to try to replicate the delicious salty bread I had in Italia. But since I wasn't wandering down a small cobbled street in the Otr'Arno in Florence, some of the flavor was lost.

I think, on the whole, this venture into the world of bread was pretty successful. Kneading the shit out of the dough gave me a good workout and was quite cathartic. As was being able to punch down Marcello. The bread was a little on the dry side, but was otherwise pretty good. I'll have to do it again sometime! Watch out, Marcello!

Easy Focaccia
From The Statesman Journal, circa 2003ish

2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups all-purpose or bread flour (I used self-rising)
1 package or 1 tablespoon quick-acting or rapid-rise yeast (I think mine was just regular)
1/2 teaspoon salt (I omitted this since I was using self-rising flour)
1 cup warm water, about 120-130 degrees
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and yeast. Stir in the warm water and olive oil. Add another 1/2 cup of flour and combine. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, adding more flour as necessary until the dough is no longer sticky but smooth and elastic. Form into a ball.
Oil the bottom and sides of a large bowl with olive oil and set dough ball in the bowl, tossing lightly so all sides of dough of dough are lightly oiled. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and/or clean dish cloth and set aside in a warm place. Allow to rise until doubled, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
When dough is risen, preheat oven to 400 and lightly grease two baking sheets with cooking spray. Divide dough into two smaller balls. Using fingertips, press to flatten out dough balls, working each into about an 8-inch circle.
Place each disc on a prepared sheet. Allow to rest and slightly rise a few minutes before baking, if desired. Bake 20-25 minutes until very lightly golden.

1 comment:

Amy said...

love it! i also knead the shit out of my dough and feel better later...