If you were one of those enterprising folks that got caught up in the sourdough bread making frenzy during quarantine, you realize by now that the process isn’t exactly a piece of cake. (That requires another type of flour!) Sourdough bread making days, at least at my house, start early in the morning with hydrating the flour. That is followed by a technique called Autolyse which begins the gluten bonding process. Then, it’s the hours-long method of letting the dough rise, punching it down, letting it rise again, punching it down and letting it rise a third time. Finally its incorporating the add ins (like kalamata olives or rosemary) and shaping the bread for the oven. I haven’t even talked about the commitment of keeping, feeding and caring for the bread starter for years to come. (My Amish Friendship Bread starter, which I have kept alive for 14 years now, requires daily love and a babysitter when I’m on vacation!) So let’s talk about another type of bread that’s much easier to make; Focaccia. What started as a poor man’s bread in Italy has become a classic Italian sandwich or dipping bread and an American favorite! Focaccia is about as close to full-proof as any homemade bread can be, and it’s wonderful for a Panini sandwich as well as dunking it in good extra-virgin olive oil. This is the recipe for the homemade Focaccia bread we served at my restaurants for years. Enjoy!
- 1 package active dry yeast (or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast)
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon white truffle oil, optional
- 3 1/2 cups white flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 heaping teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 small yellow or red onion, diced and sautéed
- 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, stems removed
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- Place the warm water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Let yeast soften and bubbles form, about 10 minutes. In standing mixer with a bread paddle, combine yeast mixture, ¼ cup olive oil, flour and salt, mixing until dough forms a ball, about 5 minutes. (Dough should be elastic and smooth.) Place dough in bowl coated with olive oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double, about an hour. Punch down and divide the dough into 8 equal size portions, about 3 inches in diameter. Cover with cloth and let the dough rise for about 30 minutes. Sauté onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until soft. Set aside. When dough has risen, place rounds on two sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Poke the top with the tips of your fingers to make deep indentations. Brush with remainder of olive oil and white truffle oil. Top with onions, garlic powder, salt, pepper and rosemary. Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.