Kneading dough sucks. It’s one of the few kitchen tasks that makes me anxious about cooking and is the one step in a recipe that makes me consider abandoning the entire recipe altogether. It ranks up there with washing mini tart & muffin pans (so many grooves!), and cooking chicken in any type of milk (ugh chicken milk). My discovery of dough hooks was the greatest thing since…well…sliced bread.
After the relative success of my Mascarpone Rosemary Beer Bread last year, I decided I’d try again – this time to make Focaccia. Ignoring all of the wrong ways somebody can say it (I won’t lie…I’ve avoided ordering it at cafés in the past for fear of insulting the cashier), focaccia is a simple bread (compared to a lot of the other breads out there).
If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I made a list of 2015 Food Resolutions. One of these items was to make a different type of bread every month. My Resolutions are challenges to myself because I want to continuously up my cooking game, and bread skills elude me.
Apart from the kneading (thank you Kitchenaid for solving that part!), the other thing that gets to me is understanding yeast. There are so many different types of yeast I’ve come across recently (baker’s, brewer’s, nutritional), and like I’ve said before, baking bread feels like a whole other world. The yeast that I had in my pantry was on its dying breath, and I sort of put it in a too-warm oven to rise. I effectively murdered it. It didn’t bloom, rise, or bake nicely. I almost gave up, but the next day Rabin went to the supermarket and came back with a fresh pack of yeast. He’s such an enabler.
I’m so glad he did though. Not only did the new yeast bloom beautifully, the dough rose and looked like the legit kinda bread you see in fancy recipes.
Together we ate 7 pieces out of the pan and decided to up our snob level by trying it with different dipping oils & jams. Pistachio oil with the bread was the clear winner. Rab was a strong advocate for the bread with pear jam, and Basil infused olive oil gives it a serious Italian restaurant-type vibe. I would say that roasted garlic would also be wonderful, or just good ol’ cheese. I mean, can you really go wrong with freshly baked bread?
1 packet Yeast
1 cup warm Water
1 tsp Honey
2 ½ cups All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt
Sea Salt (I used Pink Himalayan Sea salt)
¼ – ½ tsp Black Pepper
Pour yeast, water and honey in a mixing bowl. Leave it for about 8-10 minutes to let the yeast bloom (it will look foamy). Add flour, ¼ cup olive oil and 1 tsp salt. Attach your dough hook to your mixer and let it knead the dough on medium speed for about 5 minutes. Drizzle a little oil around the edges of the dough in the bowl and cover with a clean towel. Place the bowl in a warm place, and allow it to rise for about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. As the oven preheats, transfer the dough to a 9×13 inch pan / casserole dish. Pull the dough until it touches the edges of the pan. Poke holes in dough with your fingers. Sprinkle desired amount of sea salt and pepper and drizzle with the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil. Let the dough rest for about 15 – 20 minutes until it becomes a little puffy.
Bake in oven for 20 minutes until the bread is golden brown and crusty.
Remove from oven, allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes and cut into squares.
Erase any carb-related guilt by taking a deep breath and reveling in that freshly baked bread smell.