Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Focaccia Bread


The first time I tasted Focaccia Bread was at an Italian Panini sandwich shop which served a variety of flat bread sandwiches, or offered the bread in strips with flavored dipping oils. 

Determined to make it, I tried several recipes, some quicker and denser than others, and some for a bread machine, but finally discovered this recipe comes closest to the airy, dimpled oily texture sought while making a large batch. 

Most often, a sprinkled mixture of Italian dried seasonings or rosemary and coarse sea salt works well. This bread also freezes well.I make a batch then cut and freeze in different sizes to have on hand for Italian meals, or to make Panini sandwiches.  A BLT or a Club Sandwich on Focaccia is simply delightful.

I use a large cookie sheet with 1/2-inch deep sides to spread the dough which keeps the dough in a nice rectangular shape as it bakes, but the dough can be spread in any flat baking dish or pan - round, rectangular or square. The dough can be divided into two smaller pans as well.
Risen Dough

Focaccia Bread
1 3/4 cups warm water
1 package dry yeast, ( 2 1/4 tsps.)
1 Tab. sugar
5 cups flour

1 Tab. kosher salt, plus coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
3/4 cup olive oil, divided
Optional topping choices: Italian spice mixtures, herbs, cheese, olives, caramelized onions, minced garlic


Dimpled Dough
Combine water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl and let set until bubbling. In mixer bowl with a dough hook, combine flour, kosher salt, 1/2 cup olive oil and yeast mixture on low speed. When dough has come together, continue 5 to 6 minutes on medium speed until it's smooth and soft. Sprinkle with flour if dough is too sticky.

Transfer dough to lightly floured surface, then knead by hand 1 or 2 times. Sprinkle flour if dough is really sticky. Coat bowl lightly with olive oil and return dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set in warm place to rise doubled in size, at least an hour, but 2 hours is better.
Baked Golden Brown


Coat sheet pan with 1/4 cup olive oil.  Place dough onto pan and press out to fit size of pan. Turn dough over to coat other side with oil. 

Continue stretching to fit pan. Spread fingers and make deep finger holes all the way through the dough. This will give it a dimpled look.

Put in warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. While rising a second time, preheat oven to 425.

Sprinkle top with some sea salt and optional topping/s then lightly drizzle oil on top. Bake on bottom rack until the top is golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool before cutting and serving. 

Cut into 3 to 4-inch squares for making sandwiches, grilled Panini sandwiches, or serve with Italian dishes and salads. Slices are 3/4 to 1-inch thick, so for sandwiches, I slice horizontally in half with dimpled side used as the top.  This recipe makes approximately 24 square, 1-inch thick slices.  It freezes well.

Estimated cost: $1.50 or less.


Ideas for Focaccia Sandwiches:  
http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Baked-Deli-Focaccia-Sandwich