Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What's for Dinner?

photo by Joy Newman

Focaccia Bread

Okay, please don’t hate me today. I’m posting a homemade bread recipe but it’s super easy and doesn’t take as long as you think and your family will adore you for making it.  Cross my heart.
The recipe is written up for a 9x12 sheet pan, but I like to use a baker’s half sheet pan  (18x13) and double the recipe.   This way we have leftovers we have enough to share or to freeze. It can be eaten the next day but it doesn’t taste as good, in my opinion.  My kids don't even mind the red onion and thyme so please don't exclude those ingredients. They really help make this recipe. I like to make sandwiches with this, but it's also delicious served with soup or salad. Or eaten, slightly warm when nobody else is looking.

Martha Stewart and Janell

¼ c extra virgin olive oil, plus more for baking sheet
1 ½ T sugar
1 packet (2 ¼ t) active dry yeast
1 T fresh thyme leaves, chopped
3 ½ c flour, plus more for kneading
2 t salt
finely chopped red onion

1.     Lightly oil a rimmed bake sheet and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine 6 T warm water with the sugar and the yeast. (The water should be 105 degrees to 115 degrees;  I just put some water in a measuring cup and briefly warm in the microwave. The water can’t be too hot or it will kill the yeast) .  Stir to dissolve and let stand until foamy about 5 minutes. (If your yeast doesn’t foam then it’s probably dead.  Start over with new ingredients.)  Add the oil, 1 c warm water and the thyme. Stir to combine.
2.     Add the flour and salt and mix on low speed until all the flour is incorporated, about 2 minutes.  Increase the speed to medium and continue mixing until a very sticky dough forms, about 3 minutes.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Knead dough with lightly floured hands until smooth and elastic, about 2 minutes.
3.     Place dough on prepared baking sheet, turning to coat with oil. Cover lightly with plastic wrap; transfer to a warm place and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. (If you need a warm place, briefly turn your oven on to make it warm only, not hot and then turn it off. Place dough inside to rise.)
4.     Preheat oven to 425 degrees with the rack in the center of the oven.  When dough has doubled in size, press it out to fill the pan. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.
5.     Using the knuckle of your forefinger, press slight dimples into the dough.  Drizzle with olive oil, salt, more chopped thyme and the chopped red onion. Bake 20-30 minutes until the top is golden brown and the bread sounds hollow when tapped. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Make sure bread is cool before cutting.  Slice it up and serve with dinner or slice into squares, and then in half to use for sandwiches. Enjoy!

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