I never really thought of myself as a cook or really enjoyed cooking much, but last week I was on vacation with my family and boy did I miss cooking. I came home with loads of ideas for recipes to make. I even convinced my sister (who also likes to cook) to start her own food blog. We’re going to have a food picture competition. I’m going to win.
Focaccia is delicious. It’s an Italian bread that’s great for sandwiches and paninis or for dips and spreads. It’s also a really variable bread. You can add almost anything to focaccia and it will still taste amazing. Focaccia can also have different types of crust. It can have a thin cripsy crust that’s good for soup dipping or it can have a thicker crust that will make the perfect panini. Here, I made two loaves of focaccia bread. The first loaf is an onion rosemary loaf with a crispy crust and the second loaf is an asiago oregano loaf with a thick crust. You can see the different types of crust in the picture above. The piece on the left is not as dark and has no distinct “crust” while the piece on the right has a darker top and you can see clearly where the crust ends.
Focaccia is actually much easier than I expected to make. The base recipe only requires 5 basic ingredients and the hardest part is waiting for the silly loaf to rise (I’m impatient). I love to make bread and I want other people to enjoy making bread too, so I always like to find a common or delicious bread recipe that is easy for anyone to make. This is that recipe.
Yield: Makes 2 15"x12" loaves (each loaf has about 8 pieces in it)
5 cups of all-purpose flour (plus extra for sprinkling)
2 tsp yeast
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for coating)
1 tsp salt
2 cups lukewarm water
toppings of choice (optional)
For the Rosemary Onion Loaf:
1/4 red onion sliced into rings
1/2 tbsp dried rosemary
For the Asiago Oregano Loaf:
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup shredded asiago cheese
Combine all the ingredients except the water and the toppings in a large mixing bowl. Add 1/2 the water and stir to combine. Add more water in small portions and mix to combine until you have a shaggy ball of dough. By "shaggy" I mean the point where all the flour is incorporated, but it is still crumbly.
Remove this ball from the mixing bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes or until you can insert two fingers and have the impressions remain. For an awesome tutorial on kneading, check out this video. I posted this in my recipe for whole wheat breadsticks, as well. This dough is much better for learning to knead with though. This dough is much softer than the breadsticks and if you knead long enough, you can see a clear change in texture.
When you are finished kneading place the dough into a bowl coated with olive oil and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size. Coat two cookie sheets with olive oil.
After the dough has risen, divide it into two equal portions. Place one portion on each of the prepared cookie sheets. Shape the dough by pressing the dough down into the desired shape (square or round) until about uniformly 1" thick. Cover again with oiled plastic wrap and let rise for about 20-30 minutes or until you can press into the dough with a finger and the indentation stays. Longer is usually better.
After the second rising, preheat the oven to 425ºF. Use your finger to make dimples all over the dough. Dimples should be about 1"-2" apart. Pour olive oil all over the dough ensuring to place some in each dimple. Use a quality olive oil as it will flavor the dough. Add any toppings at this time as well.
For a crispy thinner crust:
Place the cookie sheet in the oven immediately after adding the toppings. Bake for about 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from the oven. Allow to cool on a wire rack before slicing.
For a thicker crust:
Cover the dough with oiled plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise one final time for about 20 minutes after adding the toppings. Place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cook on a wire rack before slicing.