Personal Vacation

Life is a constant balancing act, and I’m just barely getting by at this point. This weekend was my personal vacation off, and I made the most of it by spending most of my time lounging around in my PJs and staying warm in my bed. When I did gather enough courage to get out of bed, my energies were spent in the kitchen, and voila! Delicious, toasty, warm, focaccia bread. Perfect for dunking in olive oil & balsamic vinegar or warm marinara sauce. Nomnom. So easy, and the entire house smells wonderful afterward.

Flour

Focaccia
Source: Epicurious
I did everything by hand, and it came together surprisingly easily. I made several batches and had my roommates, my parents, and grizzly’s family try it out. So far, positive reviews. I tried an Herb Oil topping and the original Epicurious topping. I liked both, but I think it would be fun to try different topping combinations next time. Jalepeno and cheddar cheese. Carmelized onions and blue cheese. Sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella. Also, I added a dried herbs to the flour mixture just to add more flavor and oomph. Enjoy.

Ingredients
2 1/4-ounce packages (5 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 c warm water (105°‐115° F.)
1 tbs salt
5 + 1/2 c flour
1/3 c olive oil
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves [rosemary], minced
2 tbs cornmeal
1/2 c coarsely grated Parmesan
coarse salt for sprinkling
freshly ground black pepper for sprinkling

Directions
In a large bowl, mix together warm water, sugar, yeast, and let stand for 20 minutes until foamy. In a separate bowl, stiry together 5 cups flour & salt. Add oil into yeast mixture. By hand (or paddle attachment of stand mixer), gradually work in flour to yeast mixture, just until combined, soft and just slightly sticky.

Dough

Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead in enough remaining flour to form a soft but not sticky dough. Form dough into a ball and put in an oiled large bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead thyme or rosemary into dough. Form 2 oval dough balls of roughly the same size, and let rest under inverted bowl for another 5 minutes for easier rolling. [*I divided the dough into fourths and baked them in little pie tins]

Preheat oven to 450° F.

Oil two 13- by 9-inch baking pans and sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon cornmeal [I used 4 pie tins]. On lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin roll out dough balls to fit baking pan [or pie tin], about 1/4″ in thickness. Use fingers to gently fit dough into pan. It is OK if it doesn’t touch the edges. Cover each pan with a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 20 minutes.

PreBake

Sprinkle dough with Parmesan, coarse salt and pepper [Parmesan is optional if you are using the Herb Oil]. With lightly oiled fingertips make indentations, about 1/2 inch deep and 1 inch apart, all over dough rectangles and bake in middle of oven 12 minutes, or until golden. Serve warm.

Herb Oil
1/2 c olive oil
1 tbs fresh rosemary, thyme, sage, minced
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper

Heat oil in microwave until warm. Add other ingredients and combine. Generously brush herb oil onto dough before baking.

Enjoy

Four more weeks until graduation – soo close, I can smell victory. Both grizzly and I are graduating this winter – he with his masters, and me, my bachelors. Winter break is going to be soo sweet. Until then, I will be playing around with different types of stout (ssh, it’s a surprise – details later), and baking up a nice turkey for my students when we are in Tahoe.  Lots to do. Take care and until soon lovelies!

AnhD.

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