I love bread. There, I said it.-Kendra from A Crunchy Peach
I’ve always loved bread. I remember as a child, on the way home from church, our parents would stop at the country market and buy two loaves of (still warm) bread. One for Sunday supper, one for us to devour on the car ride home. My sisters and I always ate out the inside and left the crust. Our mama was never very happy about that.
Now that I’m grown, I’ve learned that bread isn’t necessarily my friend. I don’t feel physically great when I eat lots of bread (not as bad as dairy but not as good as sweet potato), so I’ve pumped the brakes on it. I save my bread for special occasions and focaccia is one of those occasions…always slathered in a whole mess of olive oil.
I first made this with my friend Gilly, who is such a Renaissance woman (is that a term? If not, it is now). She has so many amazing skills, I’m never surprised to hear about or see her doing something new. She led a focaccia-making for a small group and proclaimed it to be easy- I was skeptical at first but now that I’ve made it a few times, it turns out that she was right all along. Here’s the short note directions:
Mix all of the things together and let them sit. The ratio is 4-2-2-1. Then bake in a 375 oven for 25 minutes. It’s that simple. So, thank you Gilly. You’ve brought handmade bread into our house and we couldn’t be happier.
Start with a big bowl (this grows) and mix these ingredients together- mix them well but don’t over mix them.
4 cups of flour (I tend to use unbleached organic white)
2 cups of water (straight out of the Berkey)
2 tsp of yeast (realistically, I throw the whole packet in)
1 tsp of salt
Cover and let sit for 18-24 hours in a warmish spot. Then, open it up and knead it, cover it back up and let it sit for another hour or so.
Oil (evoo) your pan(s). This will make a generous 9×13 (see below for some pan info). Add the dough and using oiled fingers, smoosh (that’s a technical term) the dough into the corners/edges of your pan. Cover it back up and let it sit for 4-12 hours (sometimes I forget about it and it’s very forgiving). Open it back up, drizzle oil on it (maybe 1/8 of a cup) and use your oiled fingers to make little divots in the dough. That will make the pretty indentations that I love on Focaccia. Add toppings at this point– we almost exclusively use caramelized onions and olives but you could use anything you like- including meats and cheeses.
Cover back up for 30 mins – 1 hour and preheat oven: 375 degrees.
Remove cover, put your pans into the oven (I usually add a sprinkle of course salt at this point) and bake for 25 minutes. Once it’s finished, remove from oven– let it sit for no more than 5 minutes and then remove from pans and cool on a rack. Otherwise, the bottom won’t stay crispy and the crispy bottom is one of the best parts of this. Once it’s completely cool, you can chop it up and eat it (although we always start in on it while it’s warm). Store airtight. I often take half and freeze it so that I can use it whenever I’m in a bread mood. It warms up beautifully. Eats best with lots of olive oil.
For my latest batch, I did one 8×8 (to share) and the rest went into our Butterpat (for me & the Mister to eat). We have a Joan, and it was a little too big- the butterpat loaf didn’t get as thick as we might have wanted, which was slightly disappointing. I’ve done two 8x8s, which I liked or one 9×13. Next time I’ll do just the Butterpat- the crisp on the bottom was spectacular and we had cooked the onions in the cast iron and then left the onion oil/taste in there and used it for the baking the bread, which was definitely a win. I wanted to share some of this with our neighbors as a ‘ring the bell and run’ treat during the quarantine, so I split the 8×8 loaf in half and sent it to their houses, wrapped in parchment paper.
My next scheme is to make a sourdough starter and try to do a sourdough focaccia.
What’s your favorite bread to eat (or to make)?