Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Focaccia Bread

Time consuming, in the sense that you have to start early.  Overall, though, it's not a ton of work and makes a really good bread.  So give it a try on a day when you'll be around.  Also, it makes a huge loaf- be prepared to find people to share with.

First make the poolish:
Beat together 1/4 teaspoon yeast, 2.5 cups flour, and 1.5 cups of water.  Cover and let sit on counter for 4 hours.  At this point, it can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or you can go ahead and continue with the bread. If you refrigerate it, make sure to let it sit for an hour on the counter before you move on so that it can warm up.  Below is a picture of the poolish before it sits for the 4 hours.

Stir the poolish down.  Then add:
2 2/3 cups flour (if you have bread flour, that would be best, but I made it with all purpose and that worked fine)
2 teaspoons salt
1.5 teaspoons yeast
2 T olive oil
1 cup lukewarm water

Beat this together until a smooth, sticky dough is formed.  The dough should come away from the sides as you stir, but stick to the bottom of the bowl.

Make a thin bed of flour on a large flat surface.  Scoop the dough out of the bowl and onto the flour.  Sprinkle liberally with more flour.

With floured hands, stretch the dough to double its length and then fold it onto itself, returning it approximately the same shape you started with.  Repeat 3-4 times.

Spray with oil and let rest for 30 minutes.

Repeat the previous stretching step, forming a rectangle after the last stretch.  Gently move the dough to a oiled baking sheet and spray with oil.  Dimple by pressing your thumb into the dough.  The indents should be 1-2 inches apart.  Drizzle with olive oil and let rise for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Dimple again, sprinkle with Kosher salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.  I also sprinkled it with dried oregano because I did not have fresh.  Then sprinkle with a mixture of chopped fresh herbs- I used basil, mint, and parsley.  Rosemary would be good if you have it.  Drizzle generously with olive oil.  Below is a picture of the bread before baking.

Turn oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  Allow the dough to rest while the oven heats up.  Once the oven is to temperature  bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the bread is a nice golden brown.  You may need to turn the baking sheet around halfway through if it is browning much more quickly on one side.   Take out of the oven and let cool for 10 minutes for cutting into squares.  Enjoy!

I served it with a herb and olive oil dipping sauce I made, but it was also delicious on its own.

If you want to add other toppings (cheese, olives, roasted peppers, etc.), do this halfway through the baking.

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