Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Focaccia with Tomato & Thyme

Personally, I find bread making to be a rather intimidating task.  I live in fear that the bread won't rise, that the yeast isn't active, that the temperature isn't just right.  But alas, it's really not that difficult.  Especially this Foccaccia.

Focaccia is on the lower end of the intimidating bread scale for me, mostly because it's not terribly fussy.   Since it's actually a flat bread, it doesn't require too much time to rise, and the possibility for toppings is endless.  I went with tomato and thyme, but it would be great with sauteed onions, bleu cheese crumbles, dried figs...anything your heart desires! 

* 1 package quick rise yeast (if you have active dry, follow the  activation instructions on the package before using)
* 1 c. water
* 1 tsp. salt
* 2 c. all purpose flour, divided
* 4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
* 1 c. whole wheat flour
* 1-2 tbsp. yellow cornmeal
* 1-2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced (depending on size)
* 1 tbsp. fresh thyme
* sea salt, to taste

In a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast, 1 tsp. table salt, and 1 c. of the flour.  In a small saucepan, combine 1 c. of water and 2 tbsp. olive oil and heat over medium heat until warm.  Once the water mixture is warm, slowly pour it into the flour mixture with a mixer on low speed until just combined.   Once the mixture is combined, beat it for two minutes, then add in another 1/2 c. flour.  Once that is well combined, use a wooden spoon to stir in the whole wheat flour until you have a soft dough.

Knead the dough in a bowl for seven minutes, working in the last 1/2 c. flour as you knead.  Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400, and prepare a 9x13 pan by buttering it and sprinkling cornmeal over it.   After 15 minutes, pat the dough into the prepared pan, pressing it into the corners as needed.   Cover it loosely with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for another 30 minutes.  After the dough has risen, use your fingers to make indentations across the dough, pressing almost to the bottom of the pan.  Drizzle the dough with remaining olive oil and add desired toppings. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown.  Serve warm.  Enjoy!

* Note: if you don't plan to eat all of the bread right away, I would recommend using a sun dried tomato over fresh as the fresh tends to make the dough soggy by the next day.

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