Saturday, September 17, 2011

Basil & Garlic Focaccia

This is my favorite quick Focaccia recipe. I'm sure it's not very traditional, and this particular batch turned out denser than I would have liked, but it's delicious, flavorful and doesn't take all day to make. Maybe it's name should be "Focaccia in a pinch"? Either way, it's delicious sliced horizontally for sandwich bread or in slabs to dunk in tomato soup. The original recipe is rosemary, to which I add garlic, which is a wonderful mouth-watering combination. Since I was serving this with a basil tomato soup, I switch the seasoning. Try it with whatever herbs you prefer, you really can't go wrong.

Basil and Garlic Focaccia

Based on a recipe from Epicurious.

  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
  • 5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus additional for kneading
  • 2 tsp table salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Stir together 1 2/3 cups lukewarm (105 to 115°F) water and yeast in bowl of mixer and let stand until creamy, about 5 minutes. Add 5 cups flour, 1/4 cup oil, and table salt and beat until dough comes together. Turn out on floured surface and knead (you will need to flour your hands, too; it's a sticky mess at this point.) until soft, smooth, and sticky, 3 to 4 minutes.Be careful not to knead in too much extra flour, you want it to be a little stickier than you initially think is a good idea. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and turn dough to coat with oil. Let rise, covered with plastic wrap, at warm room temperature, until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Stir together rosemary, garlic and remaining 3 tablespoons oil.

Press dough evenly into a generously oiled 15- by 10- by 1-inch baking pan. Let dough rise, covered completely with a kitchen towel, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Make shallow indentations all over dough with your fingertips, then brush with herb oil, letting it pool in indentations. Sprinkle sea salt evenly over focaccia and bake in middle of oven until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool a while, then turn out onto a rack or bread board before cutting.

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