I'm back. After nearly 6 months of sporadic travel for weddings and holidays, baking classes on the weekends, and figuring out what my next job would be after my boss retired, I'm finally ready to come back and share some amazing recipes way more often.
This focaccia is delicious and very simple. The most important thing I've learned about bread making is PATIENCE. Between the proofing and the baking, you really just need to follow directions and not rush through any of the steps. My lovely friend Chloe suggested that I make a focaccia, which I've never tried to make before but now I've made it twice since. Chloe used some of the leftovers to make a panzanella which I might try next time I bake this.
Baking bread can seem really intimidating. The first time I tried making bread it turned out like a hockey puck. It was so dense and tough, I had no idea what I was doing and I didn't really follow directions. Make sure you allow the bread to proof twice, once after you initially mix and kneed the dough and once after you have put the dough into your baking tray. Read all of the instructions thoroughly before you begin.
- 325 ml of warm water
- 7 g of instant yeast (equal to 1 packet)
- 500 g of flour (bread flour is preferred)
- 1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- pinch of sugar
- 1 tsp of salt
- 1-2 tbsp cornmeal or polenta to dust your baking tray
For the topping:
- 1/4 of a red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 of a fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 1 heirloom tomato, thinly sliced
- 1 sprig of rosemary, chopped
- 1 sprig of thyme, chopped
- 1 tsp olive oil for sauteing the veggies
- 1 tbsp olive oil for drizzling on the baked bread
- pinch of crunchy sea salt such as Maldon
In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water. Pour the flour, salt, sugar and 1 tbsp of olive oil into the yeast mixture and stir. Bring the dough together with a spoon or a spatula. Once the dough has come together, turn it out onto a well floured surface and knead for 10 minutes (really do the full 10). You should be tired and the dough should be smooth when it is ready. Place the dough in a large bowl that has been sprayed with cooking spray or well oiled with olive oil. Add a splash of olive oil over the dough and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
With the oven turned OFF, place a bowl of hot water at the bottom of your oven. The steam will help the dough rise. Place the bowl of dough on a rack in the oven and allow to proof for 40 minutes. In the meantime, slice the fennel and red onion. Chop rosemary and thyme. Saute the onions and fennel with olive oil, a pinch of salt, rosemary and thyme, just until the onion has become translucent. Set aside to cool. Slice the heirloom tomato.
Dust a sheet pan with a good sprinkle of cornmeal or polenta. After the 40 minute proofing time, pat the dough down into your bowl to release some of the air and then stretch into a rectangle and place on your sheet pan. Poke your fingers along the top of the bread to create dimples all throughout the top of the dough. Drizzle olive oil over the top of the dough and then place your fennel and red onion mixture over the top of the dough. Then top with your sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt.
Allow the dough to proof one last time in the oven, (turned OFF) with a new bowl of hot water at the base of the oven for 45 minutes. After the dough has risen, remove it and the bowl of warm water from the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the bread reaches 200 degrees in the center of the pan.
When the bread has finished baking, drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the top once more. Wait until the bread has cooled to slice. Enjoy!