I think a part of what I’m enjoying so much about bread making is the very tactile aspect of it. You really get to get your hands into it, get a little bit of flour in your apron (if you’re an apron wearer). And, as your bread baking skills improve, or continue to improve, your tactile experience of it becomes a lot more instinctive, you get to know the feel for when you need more flour or have already incorporated too much. Focaccia is a lot of fun because you treat the dough a little like play-dough; you knead, punch down, stretch and poke and come out with a bread that seems to disappear faster than it should.
It’s funny to think that such a short time ago I was apprehensive about bread making, but now it is exciting every time the yeast starts to bubble up during proofing, a promise of good things to come. And here’s my promise: Next time I make foccacia, I’m keeping it at home, because it is all gone way too quickly when you take half of it away right after baking it.
2 tsp yeast
1 Cup warm water
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 1/2 Cups flour
1 Tbsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic
10 kalamata olives
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
sprig of fresh rosemary
Parmesan cheese, grated
freshly ground black pepper
- Proof the yeast by combining it with the warm water, sugar, and 1/4 tsp of salt. Stir gently to dissolve and allow to sit until bubbly.
- Add the proofed yeast, flour, salt and olive oil to your mixer, and using the dough hook attachment, knead for 10 minutes until the ingredients are combined into a smooth elastic dough. If by hand: mix together the flour and salt, mound into a pile and then make a well in it to contain the proofed yeast and olive oil. Carefully combine, and then knead until a smooth elastic dough is formed.
- Form the dough into a round and place in an oiled bowl to rise. Cover it with a damp towel and let rise until doubled in size (~45 minutes).
- While the dough rises, prepare the foccacia toppings: cut the onion into thin crescent moons and caramelize with the tablespoon of butter, mince the garlic, pit and chop up the olives, remove the rosemary leaves from the stem.
- When the dough has risen, tip it from the bowl and stretch it into an oblong shape about 1/2 an inch thick. Place on a sheet pan or baking stone and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Heat the oven to 400° F.
- Dimple the dough with your fingertips and then sprinkle the surface with the prepared toppings as well as the remaining ingredients.
- Bake until golden and gorgeous ~15-20 minutes.
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