Focaccia – Dinner With Julie


I’ve been making focaccia a lot this year… OK, I’ve been making all kids of bread a lot this year, but often it’s a quick dough I make in the morning, not knowing if it will be pizza or focaccia at dinnertime, but that I’ll be prepared for both. (Or naan, even, with balls of dough pulled off and rolled thin on the countertop, then cooked in a hot skillet.) This dough is pretty universal.

Here, I’ll show you how to turn it into focaccia. This dough requires no strict rising time – you can leave it on the countertop all day, until dinner, or stick it in the fridge to slow it down overnight if you don’t get around to baking it. (Breakfast focaccia is divine, by the way.) I love how oily it is… you drizzle a generous pour of olive oil into a large skillet or 9×13-inch baking pan, push the dough in and flip it to coat, then press deep into the soft dough with your fingers to make divots that will catch the oil, salt, herbs or whatever you decide to top your focaccia with. I stuck with just oil and flaky salt for this one, but often stir some garlic, chopped rosemary or za’atar into the oil beforehand. (Warning: garlic bits burn easily – often I’ll just infuse a ramekin of oil with a crushed clove of garlic, then pour it into the pan, leaving the garlic behind.)



Don’t be stingy with the oil – focaccia is traditionally crisp and oily on the bottom. I love it dragged through whipped ricotta (as pictured – literally just whip as much ricotta as you have in the food processor until smooth) or tomato sauce or runny eggs, or a pool of olive oil and balsamic, like we did in the old days of Italian restaurant dining. It also makes great sandwiches, and can be toasted. Having a slab of focaccia on the countertop to nibble from as needed is a comforting thing.

Yields12 Servings

 1 cup warm water

 2 tsp active dry or instant yeast

 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

 2-4 Tbsp olive or canola oil, plus extra for baking

 1/2 tsp table salt or 1 tsp kosher salt

 flaky salt, to finish

1

Put the warm water in a large bowl, sprinkle with the yeast and let sit until it dissolves. (If you’re worried it might be inactive, let it sit for 10 minutes, until it gets foamy. If it doesn’t, you may need fresh yeast.)

2

Add the flour, oil (feel free to eyeball this—you don’t need to be precise) and salt and stir (or use the dough hook on your stand mixer) until the dough comes together, then knead for a few minutes, until smooth and elastic. (It will be very tacky—if it’s far too sticky to work with, add a bit more flour, but it will smooth out as it sits.)

3

Shape the dough into a ball if you like, return it to the bowl, drizzle with oil and turn to coat it all over. Cover with a tea towel or plate and let sit on the counter for at least an hour and up to several hours, punching it down now and then.

4

When you’re ready to bake, generously oil a 9×13-inch pan. Flatten the dough into the bottom, then flip it over so that it’s coated with oil and press until it covers the entire bottom of the pan. Press your fingers deep into the dough, straight through to the bottom, to create deep dimples. Cover and let it sit for another hour, preheating your oven to 425F toward the end.

5

If you like, drizzle the dough with a bit more oil, and sprinkle with flaky salt. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until deep golden. Turn out onto a cutting board to slice. Serves about 12.

Ingredients

 1 cup warm water

 2 tsp active dry or instant yeast

 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

 2-4 Tbsp olive or canola oil, plus extra for baking

 1/2 tsp table salt or 1 tsp kosher salt

 flaky salt, to finish

Directions

1

Put the warm water in a large bowl, sprinkle with the yeast and let sit until it dissolves. (If you’re worried it might be inactive, let it sit for 10 minutes, until it gets foamy. If it doesn’t, you may need fresh yeast.)

2

Add the flour, oil (feel free to eyeball this—you don’t need to be precise) and salt and stir (or use the dough hook on your stand mixer) until the dough comes together, then knead for a few minutes, until smooth and elastic. (It will be very tacky—if it’s far too sticky to work with, add a bit more flour, but it will smooth out as it sits.)

3

Shape the dough into a ball if you like, return it to the bowl, drizzle with oil and turn to coat it all over. Cover with a tea towel or plate and let sit on the counter for at least an hour and up to several hours, punching it down now and then.

4

When you’re ready to bake, generously oil a 9×13-inch pan. Flatten the dough into the bottom, then flip it over so that it’s coated with oil and press until it covers the entire bottom of the pan. Press your fingers deep into the dough, straight through to the bottom, to create deep dimples. Cover and let it sit for another hour, preheating your oven to 425F toward the end.

5

If you like, drizzle the dough with a bit more oil, and sprinkle with flaky salt. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until deep golden. Turn out onto a cutting board to slice. Serves about 12.



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