Focaccia is a simple yeast bread that is best right out of the oven and dipped in some good quality extra virgin olive oil and Parmesan cheese. Foccacia is a very light and airy flatbread and can be topped with Sundried tomatoes, olives or any other ingredient you choose. It’s best paired with a salad or dipped into a soup but can also go really well with a piece of fish or meat.
A note about kneading bread: Aside from being extremely satisfying, kneading bread is essential for building gluten in the dough which is a protein that gives body to the bread so you have a light and airy loaf rather than a dense and chewy bite. To knead, fold the dough over and push down on it with the heels of you hands, curving your fingers over the dough. Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat the process of folding and pushing down until dough is smooth and elastic. Sprinkle flour over the dough during the kneading process when it begins to get sticky.
(Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens ‘New Baking Book’
3 to 4 cups all purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water (120-130 degrees)
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. white wine
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3-5 sprigs Rosemary
1. Combine 1 1/4 cups flour and yeast. Add 1 1/4 cups water, Rosemary, 1 Tbsp. oil, wine, salt and pepper to dry mixture. Beat with an electric mixer on high or by hand about 3 minutes. Stir in as much of the remaining flour as possible.
2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in remaining flour to make a stiff dough until smooth and elastic (8-10 minutes). Shape dough into a ball. Place in a lightly greased bowl; turn once. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in size, about 1 hour.
3. Grease 2 baking sheets. Punch dough down. Turn onto a floured surface. Divide in half and shape each half into a ball. Place on prepared baking sheets, cover and let rest 10 minutes.
4. Flatten each ball to about 12 inches in diameter. Cover, let rise until nearly double, (about 20 minutes). Make 1/2 inch indentations in dough with fingers. Brush remaining olive oil on top and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake in 375 degree oven about 25 minutes or until golden. Let cool on wire rack or eat warm and right out of the oven!