Thursday, March 18, 2010

Home made Focaccia

You know, I'm not really a bread maker. Oh, I know how to make bread, but who really has the time? Then there's also the thought of getting a bread maker but I'm all bread making purist and such, and the thought of using a bread maker just turns me off. Doesn't that defeat the purpose? Didn't I decide to make bread so I can work out my frustrations on some dough, kneading it until my arms ached while the smell of yeast and flour wafted around me?

This recipe is one of the easiest I've ever made. There is no kneading, no long rising times (1/2 hour? phhht!). Little people could help you with this. Heck, my 14 year old could make it all by himself.

As I pulled it from the oven and it sat on the counter, Jake hovered nearby, anticipating the first bite. He suggests that you could try using different toppings if you can't eat onions (like a blogger I know), and try things like shaved Parmesan, sundried tomatoes, or black olives. A straight sprinkling of herbs and some coarse salt (pickling salt!) works good too.

Okay, here we go!

2 1/2-3 cups of all purpose flour
1 packet (2 1/4 tsp) quick rise instant yeast
2 tsp crumbled oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup hot water (120-130 degrees F/50-55 C)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 egg

2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2-2 medium onions
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped finely (the original recipe said dried rosemary, but those suckers are like eating pine needles. I got some fresh stuff from my herb garden and minced it super fine)
1 tsp coarse (pickling) salt

Whisk 1 1/2 cups of the flour, yeast, oregano, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.

Crack the egg into a bowl and add the 2 Tbsp of olive oil, and beat lightly. Also measure out your hot water. Dump the hot water and the egg mixture into the flour and stir. It's going to make a kind of gummy dough. Don't worry about that-just keep adding the rest of the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until you get a soft, sticky dough. I ended up kneading it a tiny bit just to work some of the flour in. You may not need the full amount of flour, and that's okay. Let it just sit there in the bowl to hang out.

Fry up your onions and garlic in about 2 tsp of olive oil until they are nice and soft, stirring them occasionally and not letting them brown (browned garlic is bitter. EW). I know, it looks like a pile of onions and you're probably thinking that it's WAY too many for this. I don't think so. They cook down anyway, so you don't really end up with that many. Besides, I even reduced it.

When they're done, remove the pan from the heat and let them cool a bit.

Get out a 9x13 inch baking pan and drizzle in a little olive oil. Using either your hands or a pastry brush, slather the oil all over the inside of the pan. Then get your dough and squish it all into the pan, pulling and squishing and making it stretch all the way out to the corners, evenly. Feel free to rub the top of the dough all over with the bits of oil on your hand or the pastry brush.

Spread the onion and garlic mixture all over the top of the dough, then sprinkle with the fresh rosemary and coarse salt. Cover with plastic wrap and put the pan in the oven. That's right. Cold oven. Turn on the light.

**The premise is that the bit of heat generated by the light bulb makes the inside of the oven all nice and warm-ish, which is perfect for the dough to rise! Cool!***

Now leave that baby in there while you go have a cup of coffee, shower, play with the baby, whatever. 30 minutes is all it needs, although I think I left it a little longer. Whatever.

After it's all nice and doubled in size, remove it from the oven (trust me, I have forgotten to do this) and turn your oven on to 400 F. Bake your focaccia (without the plastic wrap of course) for about 20-25 minutes until it's golden brown on the bottom.

Makes one 9x13 inch pan of focaccia, delicious with pasta but also good for sandwiches. It really is best warm from the pan the day you make it, but it is good toasted and used for sandwiches the next day, too.

Try not to eat the whole thing. I had 3 pieces.
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