I love Foccacia bread for the hearty herbal goodness. You can find Foccacia bread in certain bakery or in some Italian Restaurants where they serve you warm crusty Foccacia. Eat it warm and dip it in olive oil, seasoned with salt, pepper and some grated parmesan cheese….so yummilicious! For those of you who’s not heard of Foccacia Bread….Here’s a little information extracted from Wikipedia:
“Focaccia (pronounced [foˈkaːtʃa] foe-CAH-cha) is a flat oven-baked Italian bread, which may be topped with herbs or other ingredients. Focaccia is related to pizza, but not considered to be the same. Focaccia is quite popular in Italy and is usually seasoned with olive oil and herbs, topped with onion, cheese and meat, or flavored with a number of vegetables. Focaccia dough are similar in style and texture to pizza dough consisting of high gluten flour, oil, water, salt and yeast. It is typically rolled out or pressed by hand into a thick layer of dough and then baked in a stone-bottom or hearth oven. Bakers often puncture the bread with a knife to relieve bubbling on the surface of the bread. Also common is the practice of dotting the bread. This creates multiple wells in the bread by using a finger or the handle of a utensil to poke the unbaked dough. As a way to preserve moisture in the bread, olive oil is then spread over the dough, by hand or with a brush prior to rising and baking.
Focaccia can be used as a side to many meals, as a base for pizza or as sandwich bread.”
This is maybe my first time baking bread (minus the time I attempted to make Chinese steam and baked bun about 7 yrs ago??), all from scratch with the help of my trusty Kitchen Aid stand mixer and no help from the bread machine! It turned out ok, I guess. I’m not very satisfied with the texture of the bread and I sort of pin-pointed the culprit; the yeast I used!
The recipe asked for Active Dry Yeast, and I used Rapid Rise Yeast as that’s the only type of yeast I have in my pantry. I proofed (adding water to yeast and mix) the yeast for about 5 minutes trying to let it bloom before adding it to the rest of the bread mixture! I later googled the difference of both the yeast and found out that with Rapid Rise yeast, I do not need to proof the yeast and should have just dump it into the the bread mixture. As, I have ignorantly proofed the Rapid Rise Yeast, I might have lost much of the “outgassing” action by doing so. Therefore, my Foccacia Bread (even though it doubled in size) was slightly dense, not as soft (as least it’s not rock hard?!) and fluffy as I hoped it would be. Maybe I should gave leave it to quadrupled in size before baking it? I got all excited and just couldn’t wait to let the dough rise a little longer!! I will try it a few more times, this time using the right yeast or right method to use the yeast! =) I will maybe let the dough rise a little longer next time too in hopes to get a crusty yet light Foccacia bread!Here’re before and after pictures of my Foccacia bread:
The Foccacia Bread recipe I used was from http://italianfoodforever.com/. Here’s the recipe :
FOCCACIA BREAD RECIPE
Making a basic focaccia is a very easy way to begin making bread if you have never tried it before. Depending on how large you stretch your dough, this foccacia can be made thick enough to be used for sandwiches which will create a softer bread, or by spreading it out thinner on the pan before baking it will have a crisper crust.
Makes 1 Focaccia
by Deborah Mele
- 1 Pkg. Active Dry Yeast
- 3/4 to 1 Cup Warm Water
- 4 Cups All-purpose, Unbleached Flour
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 6 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 Tablespoons Fresh Chopped Rosemary
- Coarse Salt
Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup of the warm water, and let sit 10 minutes until bubbly. In a large bowl, combine the flour, Ts. of salt, yeast mixture and remaining water. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon and then your hands. Transfer to a floured work surface and knead by hand for a few minutes or until smooth. Place in a well oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
Punch down and place on an oiled baking sheet, forming into an oval or circle. Dimple the top surface with your finger tips, and then drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with coarse salt and rosemary. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Bake about 20 minutes or until golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Variations: Instead of the rosemary, you might add 2-3 tablespoons of fresh chopped sage to the dough with some Fresh Parmesan on top. Other alternatives are sliced olives, thinly sliced zucchini or thinly sliced onions. Such cheeses as grated Parmesan, Mozzarella, or Fontina are also good.
June’s Notes: To my Foccacia Bread, I added about 2 tbsp of finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes, 1 tsp of rosemary, 1/2 tsp of pepper into the dough. I used a stand mixer to mix all the ingredients together before kneading it with my hands. In addition to the recipe requirements, I sprinkled another 1/2 tsp of pepper, and some grated parmesan on top of the bread before baking. Instead of using Olive Oil, I stepped it up and used White Truffle Oil (White Truffle infused Olive Oil) as that was the closest to Olive Oil I have in the pantry. Price tag on the White Truffle Oil was kinda hefty at $6 for a mere 250 ml bottle! But, it was well worth the little “investment” as the bread had an extra earthy, nutty flavor to it! Even though the bread turned out slightly dense, I could taste the complexity of flavors from the Parmesan Cheese, Truffle Oil, Rosemary, Sun-dried tomatoes, and Pepper! Love it! Yums! Updated March 1, 2009 : I sandwiched a piece of Salmon Corn Cake between my Foccacia, thus making it June’s version of Fish Sandwich! =) I kept it simple since the Salmon Corn Cake already had a lot of things in it and just added some mayo on the bread.