Pretty much every Daring Bakers Challenge I have ever done has been done frantically, a day or two before the posting date. This time was different. Almost 2 weeks ago I made my first herbed focaccia loaf. But I only took a picture of the finished product, and only with my iphone. I told myself I’d make another one and take good photos. I wound up making three more, but didn’t manage to take any good photos. Of any of them. Here is the problem, well problems really. 3 kids under 5, an inability to plan ahead, and the worst, bad light. Each time I made bread it was to serve with dinner which meant I was finishing up the bread right about the time the light in my kitchen was blue and my kids were screaming for something. Any of you who have ever been around kids between the hours of 5 and 8pm know exactly what I am talking about.
But there is a bright side! This recipe is wonderful…easy, delicious and with lots of options to make it simple or to add special toppings.
For the month of April Rachael of pizzarossa and Sawsan of Chef in Disguise took us on a trip to Italy. They challenged us to try our hands at making focaccia from scratch.
The herbed focaccia recipe I made three times. Once sprinkled with salt, olive oil and fresh rosemary, the second time topped with sliced tomatoes, olive oil, salt and rosemary. And most recently I made individual ones with sundried tomatoes and parmesan.
My favorite was the second, the one with sliced tomatoes. The sundried tomatoes I added at the beginning of baking and so they got a little too charred. I think you could easily chop them up and add them to the dough for something really great. But the fresh tomatoes won for me. I think maybe because this was the closest one to being pizza!
I tried the Focaccia di Recco, but couldn’t find the right cheese, so it wasn’t quite right. The recipe calls for Stracchino cheese, but I used shredded mozzarella with just OK results. If I ever see it on a menu or in a bakery somewhere I am going to have to try it. It sounds incredible. Melty cheese sandwihed between thin layers of dough. Yum.
If you’ve ever thought about making focaccia but bought a loaf at the market instead because you thought it was too hard, let me encourage you to try this recipe. You may never go back to store bought!
- 1 1/4 cups milk, warmed to about 110°F
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 pinch ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1¼ cups milk
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- Olive oil and kosher salt for sprinkling on top
- Toppings: fresh rosemary, freshly grated parmesan, sliced tomatoes, olives, sundried tomatoes, onions, etc.
- Whisk together warm milk, sugar and yeast in a small bowl. Let rest until foamy.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer combine flour and all the spices. Mix in the cheese, vegetable oil and yeast mixture.
- Using a dough hook, mix dough on medium speed for 3-5 minutes until smooth and elastic.
- Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in size, between 1 and 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 450F. Turn dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper. Shape into a rectangle or circle, or divide into 4 circles for individual breads. Press all over with your finger tips, then drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and place toppings. Let rest for 10 minutes.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Drizzle with a bit more oil, sprinkle with more salt if desired and top with some fresh grated Parmesan. Cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving.