Focaccia is the “fast food” of breads: near instant gratification. Well, as instant as yeast baking gets, anyway. Combine 3 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 tsp instant yeast, 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 1/4 cups water: knead in a kitchen-aid mixer with a dough hook for 10-12 minutes, until the sticky dough develops enough gluten to pass the windowpane test. Scrape into an oiled bowl; rise until doubled, about 1.5 hours at 70 degrees. Lightly oil a half sheet pan; dump the dough onto the pan. Spread and stretch the dough to evenly cover the pan, then dimple deeply, poking all over, with your fingertips. Allow to rise for 30-45 minutes more, then bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes.
Toppings are great on focaccia; I used leftover caramelized onions, scattering them atop the dough before the second rise. Chopped fresh rosemary, seedless grapes, pitted olives, sundried tomatoes: all are great choices, but show some restrain and use one at a time!
looks delicious .. Laila .. http://limeandlemon.wordpress.com/
Ok, I know nothing about baking bread. Could I do this in a food processor? By hand? Do I really need a standing mixer?
Of course you don’t need a stand mixer–it just makes the work a whole lot easier! Kneading very wet doughs (ciabatta, focaccia, pizza bianca, etc) is quite difficult by hand; if you’re a bread novice, I wouldn’t recommend hand-kneading, as it can be an exercise in frustration even if you’ve done it before. Nick Malgieri has a nice no-knead focaccia sheet in his “How to Bake” book. I don’t know the proportions off the top of my head, but I’ll send them to you. His recipe calls for yeast, flour, water, salt, and olive oil, stirred together in a large bowl for a few minutes. It goes into the fridge for a long, slow, overnight ferment/rise, then you pour the dough out onto an oiled baking sheet, rise for a bit more, and bake. It’s even easier than the focaccia I posted, but it does require that overnight fridge rise.
But if you’re looking for an excuse to buy a stand mixer, bread baking is the perfect one!
At this point in my life, I doubt that I’ll be doing much baking. Maybe when the boy is a little older. I’m lucky just to get dinner on the table.