Focaccia bread. Say it with me…focaccia bread. It even sounds delicious, doesn’t it? This is a recipe from Chef Anne Burrell and you can find it here. I love, love, love this bread. It’s like a little trip to Italy with each piece. I served this with pasta e fagioli soup, lasagna and cheesecake. It was like a stamp in my passport. I dunked my bread in my soup and oh my good golly was it ever fantastic. My eyes rolled back in my head and I was making yum noises. Roll up your sleeves and put on your apron. Let’s take a short culinary trip to Italy.
1 3/4 cups warm water (between 110 and 120 degrees)
1 package dry active yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp.)
1 Tbs. sugar
5 cups flour
1 Tbs. kosher salt
1 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
coarse sea salt for sprinkling
Add the water, yeast, and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix this with your fingers to combine. Allow to stand for 8-10 minutes for the yeast to activate until it’s bubbly and fragrant. Add the olive oil and flour. Make a trench in the flour for the kosher salt so that it doesn’t come in direct contact with the yeast. Mix on low speed with the hook attachment until the dough comes together. Increase speed to medium and mix for 5-6 minutes. If the dough still seems wet and tacky, add additional flour 1/2 cup at a time until it’s smooth and pulls away from the sides and the bottom to form a ball. Turn your oven on to the lowest setting around 170 or 180 degrees. Turn the dough out onto a counter sprinkled with flour. Knead it a time or two. If it still feels wet and sticky, add more flour and knead it in. Drizzle the inside of the mixing bowl with olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl, coat it with olive oil, turn over and coat the other side with oil. Turn off the oven. Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap. Place bowl in the oven. Let rise for about an hour or until doubled in size.
Once again turn your oven on to the lowest setting. Pour the other 1/2 cup of olive oil in a jelly roll pan. Place the dough in the pan. Using your fingers pull the dough to fit the pan, all the while digging your fingertips through the dough. It needs the holes in order to have the craggy appearance. Focaccia isn’t supposed to be smooth. Again, turn the oven off. Place the pan in the oven and let rise for about an hour or until doubled in size. Remove from oven. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle the top of the bread lightly with olive oil and generously with the coarse sea salt. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the top is light golden brown. Allow to cool completely before cutting. This is going to be difficult because it smells A-MAZ-ING! Enjoy!
Wishing you love, laughter and cake,