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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Simple Herb Focaccia

Simple Herb Focaccia

I've tried many different recipes for pizza and focaccia, sometimes taking epicurean license, sometimes to the letter. Baking is an art. I am still working on it, enjoying the explorations and learning a lot.

Most of the time, I simply throw together the dough for pizza - just keeping in mind the rough proportions.

Typically, for pizza, a ratio 3:1 of flour:water, with 1 pkt active dry yeast, works well. Since we buy active dry yeast in bulk rather than individual packets, I just keep in mind that 2½ tsp = 1 pkt active dry yeast, which is easy to remember after baking for a while :) The 3 parts flour can be a combination of whole wheat, soy, spelt, rye, all purpose, gluten, with flax meal and nutritional yeast added in - must adjust for the varying gluten content of the flours - just experimenting has given me good results.

And, Focaccia is very similar, except it is more yeasty, so, reduce the flour. The ratio of flour:water is typically 2:1 by volume, with 1 pkt (2½ tsp) active dry yeast. Can use a combination of flours, but, the simplest one here uses unbleached all purpose flour. Unlike for pizza which only needs one rising, Focaccia is better after 2 risings and a final short one before baking.

Most good bakers would advice that flours and other dry ingredients for baking should be measured by weight, not volume. And they are so right. I try to follow that as best as I can, especially when I make artisan breads.

Anything from sautéed onions to various fresh herbs can be added, or Focaccia can be baked plain, with nothing on except some salt to taste.

Ingredients
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup warm water (105°F to 110°F)
2½ tsp active dry yeast
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
a few Tbsp fresh chopped rosemary, chives, parsley, oregano or other favorite herbs
1 Tbsp coarse salt (optional) for topping

Preparation
  1. Add the yeast to warm water and allow to sit for 10 minutes
  2. Add rest of the ingredients to this mixture, knead well, coat with olive oil and allow to rise in a warm place till doubled in volume, about 2 hours
  3. Divide the dough into 2 equal parts, stretch it into round cake pans, cover, and allow to rise another hour or so. If the dough doesn't stretch easily and wants to spring back, allow to sit for a little longer and try again
  4. Pre-heat oven to 475°F; Dimple the dough in several places with fingertips, cover the pan and allow to rise for another 30 minutes
  5. Bake in a 475°F oven for about 15 minutes (or till cooked through), remove immediately, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt and serve warm
They make excellent quick sandwiches: slice the focaccia and load it with favorite fillings - feta, kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, pepperoncini, spring onions or other favorites. Serve with warm soup for a filling meal. easy recipe Simple Herb Focaccia bread italian

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