Thursday, October 2, 2014

Mini Focaccia Bread

Focaccia is a flat oven-baked Italian bread product similar in style and texture to pizza doughs. A popular side dish in Italy, Olive Oil is a key ingredient in this bread, apart from flour and yeast. It may be topped with herbs or other ingredients like vegetables, cheese or meat. The general way of preparing this one is to mix the ingredients, make a thick flat bread and bake to a golden brown tinge. Top it with olive oil and serve!

The flat bread comes in varying sizes, from the largest one enough to serve a family to small single serve portions. Here is a recipe of focaccia seasoned with fresh herbs and topped with cherry tomatoes and olives. Serve it as a side to soups or main course meals, use as a base for pizza, or modify it to serve as a thick sandwich bread.

Allpurpose Flour/Maida 3 cups
Rapidrise Dry Yeast 1 sachet (2 1/4 tsp)
Olive Oil 3 tbsp
Herbs ( I used fresh Rosemary and Basil)
Salt 1 tsp
Sugar 1/2 tsp
Cherry Tomatoes
Warm Water 1 cup (100-110 F)
Butter 1 tsp

In a cup of warm water, add Yeast, sugar and 1 tsp salt. Let the mixture stand for ten minutes till it foams. In a large mixing bowl, mix flour, 2 tbsp Olive Oil and herbs. Pour the frothy yeast mixture into this mixture and make a soft dough. Add little water if required and knead well. The mixture may be sticky at first, knead it well till it converts to a soft dough.  Apply oil over the dough and place it in a large bowl, cover it with a moist cloth and let stand for 45 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 400 F/ 200 C. After 45 minutes, the dough will be almost double it's size. Punch down the dough and knead it for 5 more minutes. Divide the dough into three parts and from each part roll out an oblong bread of about 1/2 inch thickness. Press down the tomatoes and olives (you can also use other vegetables like caramelized onions, peppers or even cheese). Place the bread in a greased baking tray.  

Bake for 8-10 minutes or till the crust turns golden brown.  Remove from oven and quickly pour the remaining Olive Oil on top. The bread will absorb all the oil and taste very good. Transfer to a cooling rack. Serve warm as a side to soups or pastas, or use it as a base to make pizza. Make two focaccia of similar size and convert it to a panini.

Focaccia tastes best with Creamy Carrot Tomato Soup or Creamy Celery Soup.

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