There's nothing quite like fresh baked bread. The smell that fills the house, that first delectable bite- It's certainly something special. Today I decided to indulge my bread-a-holic nature and make one of my favorites. Foccacia. This Italian crowd-pleaser is not only easy, but rewarding, versatile and of course, delicious.
(Recipe makes 2 loaves)
12 oz. Warm Water (110 to 115 degrees F)
1 package active dried yeast
3/4 tsp. Sugar
1 oz. Olive Oil
18 oz. Bread Flour
1 1/4 tsp. Salt
4 T. Finely Chopped Herbs (Thyme, Rosemary and Oregano are my favorites, reserve about 1 T. for topping)
1/4 cup Parmigiano, finely grated
AN Sea Salt
AN Flour for working dough
Combine warm water, olive oil, sugar and yeast.
Stir to dissolve.
Let sit for about 5-10 minutes until yeast activates, creating bubbles/foam.
Combine flour, herbs, salt in mixer bowl/food processor with dough blade.
Add yeast mixture to flour mixture and mix/knead until dough is tacky, and gluten develops. (8-10 minutes)
Divide dough in half. (I usually wrap and freeze the second half and save it for homemade pizza. This recipe makes the best pizza dough, hands down.)
Ball dough up and place in oil/sprayed bowl.
Cover with plastic or a damp towel and let sit in a warm, humid place until the dough doubles in size. (I like to use a warm oven, door cracked, with a pan of water on the bottom shelf as a speed-proofer for the dough.)
When the dough is doubled in size, and a finger pressed into the dough leaves a divot that does not spring back, remove dough from bowl and punch down.
Roll dough out, rotating 1/4 turns each time until reasonably flat and most air bubbles have popped. Place on an oiled sheet tray, and let sit about 10 more minutes for a secondary rise.
Brush with olive oil, top with sea salt, reserved herbs and the shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Bake at 375 F for about 20 minutes, rotating halfway.
Remove from oven and let cool on a rack.
Foccacia is great eaten by itself, or it can be used for sandwiches, or my favorite, as a pizza dough.