Thursday, April 23, 2009

Herb Focaccia

Tonight I made this yummy focaccia bread recipe to eat with our soup. The recipe isn't the quickest to make with the multiple resting and raising times but it turned out wonderful. I especially enjoyed the delicious flavor of the olive oil and fresh herbs from my garden on top. I think a focaccia sandwich is on my lunch menu for tomorrow with my leftover loaf!

Herb Focaccia
Family Fun Magazine October 2007

2 c lukewarm water
1 t sugar
1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 t)
1 1/2 t salt
4 1/2 to 5 c unbleached flour
5 T (for dough) plus 1/3 c (for herb drizzle) olive oil
cornmeal for dusting
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 T chopped fresh rosemary
2 t fresh thyme leaves
coarse salt (optional)

Pour the water into a large mixing bowl and stir in the sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and set aside for 5 minutes to dissolve. Note: If the yeast doesn't begin to bubble within 5 minutes, repeat the process with fresh ingredients.

Add the salt, 3 cups of the flour and 2 T olive oil to the yeast mixture and beat the ingredients with a wooden spoon for 10 minutes. (I used my Bosch mixer with the dough paddle.) Add the remaining flour about 1/2 c at a time, beating well after each addition. When the dough is too hard to be stirred, turn it onto a well floured surface. Using floured hands, knead the dough for 8-10 minutes, using more flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking.  (Again, still using my Bosch with bread paddles I added flour until the dough pulled clean away from the sides of the bowl and then kept the mixer running for 10 minutes to replace the hand kneading.) 

Pour 1 Tablespoon of olive oil into the bottom of a large bowl. Roll dough around in the oil to coat it before covering the bowl with plastic wrap. Set dough aside in a warm spot to raise until it doubles in size, about 1 hour. When the dough has doubled punch it down and turn it out onto a floured surface. Knead it for 1 minute, then cut the dough in half and knead each half into a rectangle. Set aside on a floured surface to rest for 10 minutes.

While the dough is resting lightly oil a large baking sheet then sprinkle on a light coating of cornmeal. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet. Press and stretch it into oblong shapes, about 1/2 to 1/4 inch thick, leaving 2 inches between the loaves. Brush the tops of the loaves with 2 T olive oil. Set dough aside to rise for 15 minutes and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a measuring cup combine the 1/3 c of olive oil with the garlic, rosemary and thyme and stir. Dimple the loaves with your fingertips then spoon the oil-and-herb mixture over each dough rectangle. Sprinkle the loaves with coarse salt if desired.

Bake the focaccia on the center oven rack until the tops are golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Transfer the loaves to a wire rack. 

*For a slightly thicker bread bake in a round cake pan instead of on a cookie sheet. 

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