Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Foccacia Bread

Just this summer I made my first trip to Panera Bread, yeah, I know. I was not in love with how much things cost there, but once I tasted the food...mmmm!

My favorite meal there is a turkey sandwich made with Asiago Focaccia bread...wow! I've never had Focaccia bread and I had a taste of Asiago before when making a homemade 5 cheese macaroni. Now I can't enough of that cheese! I am currantly hunting down more recipes to use it.

Today I was craving this sandwich, so I thought I might as well just make my own, I had everything I needed, so why not?

I grabbed my best baking friend, my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook and found a basic recipe. So here it is, with a few of my adjustments added.

Focaccia Bread          Italian pronunciation: [foˈkattʃa]

1 tsp sugar
4- 4 1/2 c flour
1/2 c warm water
1 tsp yeast
1 c warm water
2 tsp course salt
1 tbl olive oil

1. First you need to make a sponge. Combine sugar with 1/2 c water and dissolve. Then slowly add 1/2 c flour with 1/2 c warm sugar/water and yeast. If you want to make this an herb bread add half teaspoon each of your favorites: dried basil, oregano, rosemary or Italian seasonings. Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let sponge stand 30 mins to overnight at room temperature to ferment.

Bubbles=fluffy soft bread
2. Gradually stir in 1 cup warm water, the salt and flour until the dough comes together. Turn down dough on a lightly floured surface. Knead stiff dough until smooth and elastic (8-10mins). Place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until double in size.

3. Turn dough onto a well-floured sheet, gently, pressing with your fingertips stretch out dough into a circle about 11in diameter. Place an extra large bowl upside down over the dough to cover it; let rest 30 mins.Don't stretch the dough too roughly or dough will deflate, you want to keep bubbles intact.

4. Pre-heat oven 475F. Uncover dough and make 1/2 inch deep indentations every 2 inches in dough with your fingertips or spoon handle. Brush dough with olive oil (this helps preserve moisture), and give a few grinds of course salt. Use a microplane or a fine grater to grate enough Asiago cheese to cover. Clean off flour around bread.

To make this bread with more of an Italian flare, add some sliced olives or dried onion just before baking. Focaccia is closely related to pizza and flatbread dough and can be topped accordingly to be enjoyed in a new way.

Ideally this bread should be baked on a bread stone, but I don't own one. I think I'll add that to my growing list of kitchen tools that I want ;)

5. Bake for 20 mins for a light brown crust or up to 30 mins for darker crunchier crust. Check your bread after 8-10 mins to pop any potential large air bubbles with a knife. Cool on a wire rack about 15 mins. Serve warm with some olive oil (herb olive oil?) for dipping.

This can be cut into fourths to make excellent sandwiches. I enjoy topping a slice with meat and vegetables and eat it open faced (less carbs that way and my hard work lasts longer!)

Also...just as a word of warning. Make sure you know where your young children are at all times when making this bread, or you might just end up with this kind of situation!

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