Sunday, January 23, 2011

Focaccia



Making bread sounds hard, but I promise, it's really not.
Try it, you'll like it

Makes 3 Small Loaves

Ingredients:

2/3 C. Hot Water
2/3 C. Cool Water
3/4 Tbsp. (1 pkg.=1 Tbsp.) Dry Active Yeast
2 Tsp. Honey, or Sugar
1/8 c. Olive Oil, Plus 2 Tbsp. for the Tops for the loaves
3 1/2 c. Unbleached All Purpose Flour, Plus more for handling and preparing the dough.
1 Tbsp. Salt
Herbs, Pepper, and Salt to Sprinkle on Top (I used Penzeys Pasta Sprinkle, freshly cracked pepper and salt. Other popular choices are rosemary, diced garlic or chopped olives.)
2 C. Boiling Water
2 Tbsp. Cornmeal

In a large bowl (if using your big strong arm) or the bowl for your stand mixer (if you're using your mixer with a dough attachment) dissolve the honey/sugar in the hot water. Once dissolved, add the cool water (you should now have lukewarm water). Stir in the yeast and let sit for 7 minutes. Gradually add the olive oil, flour and salt. Don't worry if the dough is sticky-ish. It doesn't need to be kneaded. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth or with a non-airtight lid. Let the dough rise until it falls and becomes flat on top (about 2 hours in a warm house, but more like 3 or 4 hours in a cold house like mine.). You can use the dough right away after it rises and falls, but it is really sticky and is hard to handle. Your best bet is to refrigerate it for at least 2 hours (up to 14 days) before using. Once you're ready to bake the bread, remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide it into 3 pieces. My pizza stone can only hold 2 loaves at a time, so I bake 2 loaves together and one all by its lonesome. Keep the dough that you're not using refrigerated until it's ready for its turn to rise and shine. For the dough that is ready to go: Dust your hands and 1 portion of the dough with flour. Shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around the bottom about 6 times, turning the dough as you go. Shape the ball into a rectangle and flatten to about 3/4" thick. Leave the dough to rest on the cutting board (Make sure the cutting board is well floured, or else the dough will stick). After 20 minutes, drizzle olive oil on the top of the dough. Use your fingers to spread the oil to coat the top of the dough, then sprinkle on your seasonings and let rest for 20 more minutes. After oiling and herbing your dough, set the oven to 425 and put your pizza stone or cookie sheet in to heat. After 20 minutes, pour the boiling water into a baking pan on the rack below the rack your bread will bake on. Sprinkle cornmeal on the pizza stone/cookie sheet and slide the dough onto it. Bake until golden brown (about 25 minutes). Remove and let cool completely before eating. Pat yourself on the back!

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