Much of our time this weekend was spent staring out our windows, watching with amazement, the continual snow falling all around us, the wind blaring and blowing the snow sideways and into huge drifts. The world was being painted white and thankfully we were toasty warm inside our house, next to the fireplace, sharing rounds of hot chocolate, spiked with peppermint schnapps or a candy cane, age dependent. Venturing out was seemingly foolish, if not impossible so we stayed tucked away in our own home. I am always OK with staying in. Blizzard or not. But it was an added treat to have a beautiful view and an excuse to just be together and enjoy. A weekend contented inside also left time for making and eating good food, especially the kind of foods that make the house warm and smell incredible. Enter this herbed focaccia. I made this focaccia bread last week to go along with this soup we were having for dinner (also so good) and we fell in love. I found the recipe in an old bread book that my mother-in-law found. Each of the recipes I have made have been so good and classic and staples for us bread lovers. It is called the Bread Bible if you are interested. Anyway, the focaccia is so simple but fragrant and light and just everything good. It was wonderful dipped in our soup the other night and this second batch was devoured for snacking and filling our post snow playing bodies with something warm and delicious. I could not recommend it enough!
- For the dough
- 2 cups warm water
- 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 pinches of sugar
- 4-5 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- For the herbed oil
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
- Pour the warm water in a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast, sugar and 2 tablespoons of the flour over the surface of the water. Stir until dissolved and let stand at room temperature until foamy, about 15 minutes.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the salt and 2 cups flour. Pour in the yeast mixture and stir on low to combine. Add the olive oil. Beat for 2 minutes, adding the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a dough that just clears the sides of the bowl is formed. I used about 4 1/2 cups of flour but it will really depend on how humid your home is. You just want the dough to still be slightly sticky.
- Switch from the paddle to the dough hook and knead for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and springy. It should hold a finger imprint.
- Place the dough in a greased deep container. Turn once to coat the top and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until tripled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
- Grease a 17-by-11 inch baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal. Place the dough ball on a lightly floured work surface. Use the heel of your hand to press and flatten the dough. Lift and gently pull the dough, stretching it to the baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 30 minutes to 1 hour. Meanwhile combine the oil and herbs in a small bowl. Let sit 30 minutes at room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Using your fingertips or knuckles, gently poke indentations all over the dough surface no more than 1/4 inch deep. Drizzle the herbed olive oil over the dough, letting it pool in the indentations. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until nicely browned. Remove to a cooling rack and let cool in the pan. Generously sprinkle sea salt over the bread and serve warm.
I hope you enjoy! This bread kept us full and happy during our little snow-cation and I hope you love it just as much as we do! MEB