The previous posts clearly show I like making bread and my family likes eating it. Without thinking twice, I can tell you the all time favorite any of us would name. Years ago I found a recipe for Focaccia Bread in a Southern Living magazine which was attributed to Eva Royal from Evening Shade, Arkansas. I have used her recipe with success, changing size of loaf and what I put on top of it according to how I will use the bread and which herbs are currently flourishing in the garden. We love the taste of sundried tomatoes, so I add more, plus garlic and Kalamata olives. I also occasionally use whole wheat flour for part of the flour requested.
Foccacia is kin to pizza, with almost as many ways to dress up. The main differences are toppings and the thickness of the dough. Traditionally, once the dough has risen and been punched down, it is shaped and dotted with indentations that catch olive oil and salt as they are drizzled on before baking. These little reservoirs are wonderful catchments for chopped fresh basil and rosemary or oregano and chives plus a generous addition of kalamata olives. The fresh herbs contribute texture and delicious flavor and fragrance.
My daughter in law Kristen helped me make dozens of dinner roll size loaves for a family celebration last year. We have made them into sandwich buns which can also be stuffed with fillings. But most often, we make two rustic rounds that disappear very quickly. You will love it, too.
10 pieces of sundried tomato (1/2 cup or more, according to your taste)
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup milk
2 Tablespoons butter
31/2 to 4 cups bread flour, divided
2 packages active dry yeast
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
4 cloves chopped garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup shredded fresh basil
1-2 Tablespoons chopped rosemary, stems discarded
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
optional: 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh oregano.
(if you don't have fresh herbs, remember that 1 teaspoon dried herbs can be used to 1 Tablespoon fresh)
Add tomatoes to boiling water in small pan and let stand for 30 minutes. Drain, reserving liquid. Finely chop tomatoes and set aside. Stir milk and butter into reserved liquid and heat until temperature reaches 120 to 130 degrees.
Combine 11/2 cups of the flour with yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Gradually add liquid mixture, beating at low speed with electric mixer. add egg, beat 3 minutes, stir in tomatoes, garlic, chives, and enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Put dough into a well greased bowl, turn to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place free from drafts for 2 hour or until doubled in size.
Combine herbs and olive oil in small dish. Punch dough down. For round loaves, divide in half and shape each into a 10 inch round. For sandwich buns, divide into 12 balls, and shape into 3 inch rounds. Place on ligtly greased baking sheets; flatten slightly, curving fingers to poke little wells into the dough. Brush with half of the herbs and oil, sprinkle olives, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, brush with remaining herbs and oil and bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on wire racks.
This has never lasted long enough for me to photograph!