Saturday, February 18, 2012

Focaccia (Italian bread)

2 cups warm water, about 90°F

1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)4 cups unbleached flour, preferably bread flour

2 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt

Toppings, such as tomatoes ( I used 1 tbs tomato paste), mozzarella, 2 cloves garlic, pitted olives,

2 tbs parmesan

Olive oil

Fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt (for the top of the bread)

Measure the water into a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. Stir well to dissolve.

Add 2 cups of the flour and 2 1/2 teaspoons salt and stir until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Add the remaining two cups of flour and stir until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl, about another 2 minutes. If the dough seems too sticky and wet, add up to another 1/3 cup of flour.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to rise for 30 to 40 minutes. The plastic wrap keeps in the moisture and warmth.

Preheat the oven to 475°F. Oil a large, heavy baking sheet.

Carefully scrape the dough onto the oiled pan. Pour a small amount of oil onto the dough and begin stretching and pulling the dough to cover the surface.

Gently pull and coax it out to the edges of the pan

Poke through the dough to the pan, stretching holes into it

Sprinkle the dough with rosemary leaves and the additional 1 teaspoon salt.

Then I mixed the tomato paste with crushed garlic and brushed the dough with it.

Place mozarella, olives and sprinkle with parmesan.

Place the focaccia in the preheated 475°F oven and immediately reduce the heat to 450°F. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the bread is nicely browned on top.

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