Focaccia is a golden, chewy Italian flat bread. I enjoy making it because it’s so easy, delicious and versatile. Here I show it topped with sliced cherry tomatoes and garlic, sprinkled with oregano and coarse salt, but you could top it with olives, cheese, walnuts or . . . ? With chicken from the grill, a salad, and fresh peaches for dessert, you have a nice meal. Don’t be afraid of the sliced garlic–it mellows as it bakes.
This is based on a recipe for Focaccia from Puglia from “Savory Baking From the Mediterranean,” by Anissa Helou.
1 package (1/4 oz.) dry yeast
2 cups + 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup water, divided
1 teaspoon table salt
6 cherry tomatoes, quartered and seeded
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
coarse sea salt
extra virgin olive oil
In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup warm water. Add a pinch of sugar and stir. Let sit until creamy. Combine 2 cups flour and the table salt, and add to the yeast mixture with 1/2 cup warm water. Stir with a large spoon to make a rough dough. If it seems sticky, add the two additional tablespoons of flour. Lightly knead and shape into a ball. Let it rest for 15 minutes, and knead for a few more minutes until smooth. (It’s a light dough, and will still be just a bit sticky.) Remove the dough from the bowl, and wash and dry the bowl. Add a bit of olive oil to the bowl–place the dough on it, turning to coat the dough with oil. Place in a plastic bag, and let rise for an hour.
Meanwhile, using olive oil, grease a 15 x 11″ pan. Line with parchment paper and oil again. Take the risen dough and place it in the pan. Flatten it and press it to cover the whole pan. Cover with a clean dishtowel, and let it rise for about 45 more minutes, until puffy. Meanwhile, prepare your cherry tomatoes and garlic cloves.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Dot the dough with the sliced cherry tomatoes and garlic slices, pressing them in. Sprinkle with the oregano and sea salt, and then drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown.
Baking notes: Yes, this is almost pizza, but without the tomato sauce, the dough bakes up with a chewy interior and a crispy crust. The original recipe called for two initial risings, but I think it’s fine with just one. Be sure to use coarse sea salt for the topping. Table salt will be too salty. Also, you can slice this bread in half, and freeze one half for another meal.
The Country of Goldfinchania
As usual, the world is in turmoil, and I know that ignoring it won’t make it all go away. But I do enjoy the relief of immersing myself in the world of goldfinches, and noting that all is well there. No goldfinch, that I know of, is running for president! Hurrah! Come to think of it, though, I would vote for any goldfinch who did run for office. Their campaign promises would somehow involve sunflower seeds for all, and that sounds fine to me. Peace to you. Fran