Kitchen Fun, Working Mom

Flower Garden Focaccia

I found a recipe for Focaccia I was dying to try.  The one good thing about still having some time on my hands this summer while being at home with the kids is that I can still play around in the kitchen a bit.  I love to have a little time to try a new recipe and see if it will turn out.  I have been drooling over those decorated focaccias that are all over Pinterest that have the pretty little olive and tomato flowers, chive stems, and all sorts of other spices are used for bits and pieces.  It’s true what they say – you eat with the eyes first.  Of course the eyes better hurry around my house, because they don’t have much of a head start. 

The kids loved this recipe!  I couldn’t believe how amazingly easy it was.  There are a few basic ingredients to this dough – water, oil, flour, sugar, salt, and yeast.  Now, I added a ton of seasoning to mine.  If you have ever been in an Italian restaurant that served roasted garlic and herbs with a good olive oil before the meal (and subsequently ate enough bread that you didn’t need said meal – averts eyes, looks at lap in shame…), you’ll know the effect I was going for here. 

Ingredients:

2/3 cup water

¼ cup olive oil (use the best flavored one you can find)

2 T. dry active yeast

2 T. sugar

4 cups flour

1 ½ t. salt

** reserve about 1 T. of the oil to oil your bowl in a future step.

Optional seasonings:

2 T. Tuscan seasonings

1 T. minced garlic

1 t. paprika

1 t. onion powder

Method:

Before you do anything else, you have to let your yeast bloom.  Just adding it and hoping for the best is never a good idea.  I use my water (warm but not hot), add the sugar, then the yeast and give it a good mix.  Sit it in a warm place for about 15 minutes, and you should have what looks like a light root beer float when you come back. 

Fit your dough hook to your mixer, and put the dry ingredients in the bowl.  Turn on the hook (low setting) and add your oil.    

Now that your yeast is all set, add slowly to the dry mix.  The dough will be a little sticky, but that is ok.  Don’t over flour.

Kneed for about 2 minutes (yes, that’s all!) – you’ll know when it is time to take it out, it sort of hugs the dough hook like a toddler being left at daycare for the first time.

Once well combined – scrape it off the hook and into a greased, (I used olive oil for this recipe because of the flavor) large bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  I like to turn my oven on 200, leave it for about 3 to 5 minutes and then shut it off for this process.  Put the bowl in the oven and walk away – seriously – don’t mess with it.  While rising, the dough is best on its own.  Treat it like a sleeping baby – peek, but don’t slam the door.

Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down, let it rest (proof) for about another 15 minutes, then proceed.  Roll out on a floured surface to fit your pan.  I used a 9X13 metal for mine and it was a perfect fit.  You are aiming for about a ½ inch thickness.

Don’t feel pressured to add the pretty little flowers on top – this is perfectly fine as is, but if you are the ambitious type, go ahead. 

Be sure the toppings are edible and complement the flavors in the bread – it is HIGHLY flavored.  You can always adjust the amounts of seasonings if you don’t want the bread to be this intense.  If serving with olive oil and herbs, you may consider leaving most of them out.

Bake at 425 F for about 15 minutes.  I will put mine on the bottom rack next time – the herbs got a little crisp. I cooled mine a few minutes, but served it warm.

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