Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Bread Basket: Homemade Focaccia Bread

If you've read this blog before, you know that I love bread.  I really love bread.  (My hips?  Not so much.)  I've made some pretty basic breads in the past - sandwich breads, hamburger buns.  But I've been itching to try something different so the other night, I made one of Ryan's favorite meals - homemade spaghetti and meatballs.  He really loves it when I cook that.  It brings back some fond memories for us.  See, when he and I first met in person (we had "met" online many, many months before), this was the first thing I made for him.  Well, I made spaghetti.  I didn't add the meatballs until a while later.  I really wanted to impress this guy that I really, really liked with my cooking and I knew that was the best thing I made.  Ladies, there is a reason why "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach" is a cliche.  It's true.  I made him that meal and, now, we're married!  No, I won't give up my spaghetti recipe - it's a secret.

When I was making him spaghetti and meatballs last night, I wanted to make some sort of Italian bread.  Because you cannot have spaghetti without having some sort of bread product.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find a bread recipe that took less than two hours to finish (with rising times and all that jazz) until I looked on the back of my King Arthur Flour Italian-Style Flour bag.  (Ryan says I'm obsessed with flour.  I have no idea why he would say that.  I only have fourteen* different kinds of flour in our pantry.)

This bread can be made in just over one hour.  Which is almost a miracle when it comes to yeasted breads.  If you're just getting started with breads, this is an excellent bread to start out with since its so simple.  And it's really, really good.

Focaccia Bread
courtesy of KAF's Italian Style Flour bag

3 3/4 c. All Purpose Flour (I used my Italian-Style but AP works fine)
1 1/2 tsp. Salt (Kosher works best in breads)
1 Packet of Instant/Active Dry Yeast (if measuring, use 2 tsp.)
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 c. Water + 2 to 4 Tbsp., divided

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Italian Seasoning

In a mixer or using your hands, combine all your ingredients and knead for 5 to 6 minutes, using 1 c. water plus 2 Tbsp.  If you dough is dry, add the additional 2 Tbsp. of water.  You want the dough to be sticky.
Cover the dough for 15 minutes.
Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and place onto a large piece of parchment paper and knead gently a few times just to redistribute the growing yeast.
Transfer the dough and the parchment to a baking sheet and pat into a 10"x15" rectangle.
Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with Italian seasoning.
Preheat your oven to 425.
Lightly spray a piece of plastic wrap and place over the dough and allow to sit in a warm place for 30 minutes.  (I let mine sit next to my oven.)
Just before baking, using your fingers, gently press down to the top of the dough to make little dimples.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. 

(I neglected to add enough olive oil to the top.  Don't make my mistake.)

* - My fourteen (technically fifteen) different kinds of flour:
  1. All Purpose
  2. Self-Rising
  3. Whole Wheat
  4. White Whole Wheat
  5. Bread
  6. Cake
  7. European Style
  8. Italian Style
  9. Barley
10. Pastry
11. Graham
12. Irish-style Wholemeal
13. Kamut (of which I have two)
14. Potato 
(yes, each and every last one of them is from King Arthur Flour.)

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