Last year I was on a quest to make a good crusty rustic Italian bread. I am sorry to say that I am still trying BUT on this baking adventure, I did figure out a pretty good focaccia recipe.
Dino's Nona would always make focaccia, or pizza as they called it, with potato, it really gives the bread a good rich flavor. I started with that. I tried different ways, even using the potato water.I found just boiling a potato and grating it worked the best. I am very happy with my final product ~ although it will never compare to Nona's...I wonder what her secret was?
1 potato peeled and quartered
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast (don't be afraid of the yeast please)
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup warm water
2 tbsp olive oil plus more for bowl and pan. Extra virgin is best.
1 1/4 tsp salt
Bring a quart of water to a boil in saucepan; add potato and simmer until tender. Drain and let cool until it can be handled. Grate on the large holes of grater and set aside.
Make a starter....In a large bowl, mix the yeast, 1/2 cup of the flour, and 1/2 cup of the warm water with a wooden spoon until combined. Cover with plastic wrap, and set a plate on top...it needs to be sealed tightly. Set aside for about 20 minutes until bubbly.
|[my baking buddy]|
When ready, with lightly oiled hands, press dough into a very well oiled cookie sheet. I used a baking stone....it's 10 x 15. Cover again with plastic wrap and towel and let rise until doubled ~ 45 minutes - 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and make topping if desired.
This focaccia is great plain also, the one thing you have to remember is not to go crazy with the toppings, less is better. When I make mine plain, I just brush on some olive oil before and after baking.
For rosemary topping, I used about 3 tbsp olive oil, 1 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary, 1 1/4 tsp sea salt. (I use Maldon salt, my newest favorite thing!)
When dough is done rising, dimple the dough with your fingers deeply. Drizzle the dough with the olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary and salt.
Bake about 20 - 25 minutes until crust is golden on bottom. Transfer to wire rack, brush with a little more olive oil, and cool slightly. Cut into squares and serve warm ~ oh my!
*To store, wrap in plastic and then foil. We also love to slice through the middle of a square and toast. It's so good.
p.s. you can find the Roasted Chicken and Butternut Soup recipe here.