Happy Saturday, friends!
Saturdays are a special day here at This Culinary Curiosity. Every other day we talk about everyday, regular topics like dinner and healthy stuff, but on Saturdays we cut loose a little bit and bake something.
Sometimes it’ll be something decadent and sweet, other times it’ll be something delightfully savoury.
And today it’s the latter.
I’ve decided to try my hand at focaccia today. I’ve always been better at cooking than baking, really. The old adage “baking is a science, cooking is an art form” stands true for me. I like the freedom that comes with cooking. You can put in more oregano than the recipe calls for, and it won’t ruin the dish…probably. You get the idea.
But with baking there are exact measurements and processes otherwise everything can fall apart. And the pressure just gets to me, guys! It stresses me right out. Rachel’s much better at baking than I am, but I’ve decided I wanted to learn a few tricks too.
So I decided to start with focaccia. A sturdy, robust loaf that holds up well for making sandwiches or dipping in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. And it’s Italian, so what’s not to love, really?
So, to begin with, since focaccia is a type of sourdough after all, we need to make a start. You’ll want to let this stand overnight, so keep that in mind if you’re planning this recipe for a special occasion of some kind.
Prep: 20 min
Rise: 1 hour + Rest 30 min
Bake: 15 – 20 min
Oven: 475 degrees F
- 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 tsp active dry yeast
- Focaccia start
- 3-4 cups flour
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 T olive oil
- sea salt
1. To make your focaccia start, combine the the first three ingredients in a mixing bowl, beating with a spoon until smooth. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap or a lid. Don’t seal it! It needs to be able to breathe. Let the mixture stand overnight at room temperature to ferment.
2. Good morning! Hope you slept well. Gradually add your warm water, salt and flour to your start mixture. Add the flour in small increments until a dough is formed that pulls away from the bowl.
Knead your dough on a lightly floured surface, adding in enough of your remaining flour until the dough is stiff, smooth and elastic.
Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, and turn it a couple times to grease the surface of the dough entirely. Cover it and let it rise in a warm place for approximately one hour.
3. After your dough has risen enough, turn it out onto a floured baking sheet and cover it with an upside down bowl to rest for 30 minutes. Now’s a good time to preheat your oven and bread stone if you’ve got one.
After your dough is well rested (haha), shape it on the baking sheet. I shaped mine into a circle, but if you happen to be using a rectangle baking sheet you can shape your dough to match the sheet. I’m not fussy. Do what you want, it’s a free country. Just take care to keep the air bubbles in tact.
To get that signature dimpled look for your focaccia, make 1/2 inch deep indentations every couple of inches over the surface of the dough. Brush the dough with oil and sprinkle with salt. In fact, you can get really fancy here and add caramelized onions or sliced tomatoes, or various herbs and spices like rosemary or oregano. I decided to just go plain jane for my first attempt. Didn’t want to get cocky.
4. If you’re using a bread stone, this is the time to transfer the dough onto it. If not, transfer the dough to another unheated, greased baking sheet.
5. Bake it! For fifteen to twenty minutes or until it’s lovely and golden. Check on the bread near the eight to ten minute mark and pop any large air bubbles with a knife. Transfer the bread to a cooling rack and let it stand for fifteen minutes and serve warm.
My wonderful husband helped me out with this recipe. He has a gift with bread baking, which he picked up from little old Chilean ladies when he was in Chile serving a mission for our church.
He also made me a delicious sandwich as soon as the bread was cool enough.
Chopped tomatoes, fresh basil, crumbled feta and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar on a lightly grilled slice of fresh focaccia. It was truly divine. I’m impressed he even managed to take a picture before hand, because I was all set to just dig in.
I hope I’ve inspired you to make your own focaccia! Have a Sweet Saturday, everybody!