For those of you who follow me on Twitter or Instagram you would have noticed I am obsessed with making focaccia bread. Not to mention, it’s that time of year when you just want to stay indoors and stuff your face with carbohydrates.
In regards to this recipe, I blame a lot of my mishaps on my oven, but the truth is, when it comes to baking, I’m just not very good. When I cook, I don’t measure. I go my feel, taste and eye. So believe it or not, the hardest part about writing a cookbook (www.daretotaste.com) is writing down the measurements.
I have made this bread literally 15 times in the past month, and I firmly believe I finally got it right. Jumping ahead, I only like tomatoes and shallots on my focaccia. Whereas my mother, however, loves black olives and artichokes. So feel free to add your own spin on this recipe. I’m just a simple girl who likes simple flavors.
2 CUPS WATER, WARM – ABOUT 110°
2 TEASPOONS YEAST, DRY
41/2 CUPS ALL PURPOSE FLOUR
3 TABLESPOONS OLIVE OIL
2 TEASPOONS SALT
2 SHALLOTS, CHOPPED
3 TOMATOES, SLICED OR CHOPPED
1 TABLESPOON FRESH ROSEMARY
1 TABLESPOON FRESH THYME
In a large bowl (or mixer), combine the yeast with the warm water. Let rest for about 15 minutes before stirring. Add the flour, salt and flour. If you dot have a mixer, kneed for 10 minutes until the dough reaches a soft consistency.
Form the dough into a tight ball, coat with olive oil and return to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let double in size… about an hour.
Once the dough has doubled in size, deflate and let rise again for another hour. Once it’s risen, place the dough on a baking sheet lined with olive oil. With your fingers, massage the dough creating small indentations. These will become little pockets of flavor once the bread is seasoned.
In a small skillet, sauté the two shallots in olive oil until soft.
Once the dough is fully massaged, make sure the top is covered with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, rosemary and thyme. Follow with the shallots and tomatoes or any other toppings of your choice.
Cover the dough in the pan and let rest for at least another 30-45 minutes until it’s risen once again.
Bake at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes until the top and bottom are lightly browned.
Roasted Tomato, Ginger & Basil Soup
Nothing screams fall or winter like a hearty tomato soup, especially on a chilly day. Lucky for me, New England brings lots of days that call for this recipe. And if you love carbohydrates and starches as much as I do, to make it even heartier, add rice or orzo pasta. Serve with a classic grilled cheese sandwich and you have a perfect meal.
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