Brr! There’s a chill in the air. OK, in my part of the world, there is no chill in the air, yet, but since their air conditioner settings at my place of work haven’t quite caught up with the slightly cooler temperatures, there’s a definite chill inside. Nothing would warm me up faster than a nice, hot piece of bread (possibly dipped in something even hotter) and so that’s why I’m on the focaccia train today.
Focaccia is pretty easy as far as breads go. It requires some manhandling, but not too much, and it’s easy to make without any fancy accoutrements. What’s even better about it is that if you’re feeling very adventurous, you can slap all sorts of deliciousness on top of the dough and watch that focaccia turn into a flatbread-feast right before your eyes.
Personally, I like my focaccia to remain mostly bready, so I don’t add too many toppings or add-ins. However, after a great experience with fresh garlic and fresh rosemary, I’ve decided that my best-case focaccia must include a little bit of both. So take your rings off (if you wear them), pop on some Ricky Skaggs and the Kentucky Thunder, and get that oven ready: it’s time for bread, y’all.
What you need:
1 package of dry yeast (1/4 oz) like Fleischmann’s or something
5 cups of all-purpose flour
¼ cup olive oil
1-2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt (but regular table salt is OK, too)
2 teaspoons table salt
Poking utensils”¦for poking!
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare the yeast (pour the yeast into 1 and 2/3 cup warm water and stir and then let that mixture sit for a few, around 5 minutes). Add the flour, olive oil, and the two teaspoons table salt to this yeast mixture. Mix it all together. If you have the appropriate technology, like a high-end mixer with a paddle attachment, use that. Otherwise, work what your genetic code gave you and mix it yourself.
After the dough is all nice and soft and sticky, place it on a lightly floured surface and knead it with a ferocity for a minute or two. Then, oil a bowl ““ this will be your dough repository for the next hour or two. Lightly coat your dough-ball with olive oil and place it in the bowl. Cover it and let it sit at room temperature for an hour to an hour and a half ““ this lets the yeast work its magic. You’ll know when you’re done when the ball has doubled in size.
When all that’s done, flatten the dough out on a 15″ x 10″ x 1” baking sheet. Press rosemary and garlic across the top and pour on some salt and olive oil. Using your poking utensil, poke at the dough. I like making pretty patterns. Then, throw it in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and smelling delicious.