Mrs. Regueiro's Plate: Herbed Focaccia

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Herbed Focaccia

My theme for dinner was Italian night. I found a great recipe for stuffed shells, and I've been love dipping nice crusty bread in olive oil & balsamic vinegar. Usually I pair garlic toast with my pasta dishes, but I've been experimenting with making bread. Also, I say "experimenting" because I have had 2 or 3 or possibly 4 FAILED experiments that I would like to forget that ever happened. It's a personal goal of mine to "bake bread."
However, with careful attention to detail, this recipe was a success! I tested the yeast to make sure it was active with the warm water, added a teaspoon of sugar to see it foam up. I have this worry that I'm burning the yeast with HOT water. This bread did take about 3 hours to make, 20 mins to prep the dough, 1 hour to let it rise, and knead it down, and 1 more hour to let it rise. And another 25 minutes to let it cook, but it was well worth it! My only problem, the bread was crunchy in some areas...and I think it was due to my warm oven being a little too hot. When you let the dough rise, it's supposed to be in a warm draft might have been to warm sitting on top of my hot oven! I'm going to study up some more on baking bread videos and books...I will re-visit making bread again this weekend...but with my breadmaker!!!!!!!

Herbed Focaccia Source: Williams-Sonoma
2 1/2 tsp. (1 package) active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105° to 115°F)
1 1/2 cups milk
6 Tbs. olive oil
5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary or 1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. chopped fresh sage or 1/4 tsp. dried sage
Coarse salt, to taste

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let stand until creamy, about 5 minutes. Stir until dissolved. Add the milk and 4 Tbs. of the olive oil and stir to combine.

In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, stir together the flour, salt, thyme, rosemary and sage. Add the yeast mixture and stir until a soft dough forms, about 2 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Shape it into a ball.

Oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn it once to coat the top. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Oil a 15-by-10-by-1-inch jelly-roll pan. Punch down the dough, transfer to the prepared pan, and flatten it out with your hands to cover the bottom completely. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise again in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Preheat an oven to 450°F.

Using your fingertips, press down firmly into the dough to make dimples about 1 inch apart and 1 inch deep. Drizzle the entire surface with the remaining 2 Tbs. oil and sprinkle with the coarse salt.

Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Slide the focaccia onto a wire rack and let cool completely. Cut into squares to serve. Serves 8.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Savoring Series, Savoring Italy, by Michele Scicolone (Time-Life Books, 1999).
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