Monday, January 23, 2012

Olive, Onion, and Rosemary Focaccia

It was one of those impromptu baking sessions. The husband was at soccer practice, and I was bored. Baking bread is one of my favorite ways to pass the time here. Even though I try to stay away from gluten and grains, there's nothing more I love than the smell of freshly baked bread. I'll walk into one of the many bakeries here, just to bask in the aroma of freshly baked loaves of bread and cookies. It takes a lot of willpower not to buy anything. Masochistic tendencies, perhaps?

Luckily my husband isn't a primal / paleo nut like me, so he'll gladly eat any bread I bake. This focaccia though, I decided to make for the girls in his office. One of the things I love about us moving up here is now I feel like I can make a wider variety of baked goods. Before, it was just me and him, and I don't like keeping sweets / breads in the house - it invites too much temptation. Now however, I have more people to cook for. Whee!

This focaccia turned out amazing. Everyone loved it, and I have to admit even I nibbled at a piece. It went perfect with my Black Bean Hummus. The original recipe called for either thyme or oregano. Even though I had thyme, I decided to use both rosemary and oregano instead, and I'm so glad I did.

Olive, Onion, and Rosemary Focaccia 
Adapted from The Weekend Baker

What you'll need:

For the focaccia dough:
  • 3 cups + 1 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp oregano and 1/2 rosemary (be generous here if you want delicious herby bread; I overfilled the measuring tbsp!)
  • 1 tsp fine sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 tsp yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
For the topping:
  • Pitted olives, chopped into quarters. I used small green olives, but you can use any kind - black or kalamata, etc.
  • Some chopped red onions
  • ~ 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp oregano and 1 tsp rosemary 
  • 1 tsp course sea salt, optional (leave this out if you're watching your sodium intake. I didn't add any salt to mine)
  1. Combine the flour, oregano and rosemary, yeast, salt and sugar in a large bowl, and mix together. Drizzle in the water and olive oil, and stir with a spoon until you get a shaggy dough. 
  2. Move it to a floured surface and start kneading until it's smooth and no longer sticky. It'll be super sticky to begin with, but try not to add any extra flour. If you must, add no more than 1 tsp. You'll know it's read when you can stretch out the dough and it doesn't break / tear. I kneaded for about 10 - 15 minutes.
  3. Lightly oil a bowl, shape the dough into a ball, and place the ball of dough into the bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until it doubles in size, about 45 minutes to an hour. I turned my oven on to 400 F for a minute, then turned it off and placed the bowl in there for about an hour. 
  4. After it rises, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the dough on it. Gently deflate, then shape into an oval about 2 cm thick. Lightly brush the top of the dough with a bit of olive oil and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Rise the dough again until it puffs and nearly doubles, about 20-30 minutes. 
  5. Preheat the oven to 220 C / 428 F. Take the plastic wrap off. Coat your fingers lightly with flour, then press your fingers in the dough, making dimples all over. Press the olive pieces and red onion into the dimples. Drizzle the olive oil all over the dough, then sprinkle with the oregano, rosemary, and sea salt. 
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is a nice golden brown color. You can knock on the back of the bread to see if it makes a hollow sound, indicating that it's cooked through. Transfer the bread to a wire rack and let cool a bit. Try not to eat the whole thing. 
I made a smaller one, just for the husband.

After making the focaccia, I decided to make some black bean hummus to go along with it. And believe me, it was worth it. The focaccia tasted best fresh out of the oven, but it still tasted delicious the next morning. 

PS: I'm still working on ways to get better lighting in our place. Since this was taken at night, I didn't have much to work with.

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