Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Soft "Focaccia"

Softer and fluffier than focaccia or pizza, think of this as a flat loaf of very flavorful bread, topped with gooey cheese. If you want it a little crisper, you can bake it longer. And here's a bonus - you can make it well ahead of time, then reheat in the oven so you've got warm bread and melty cheese when you need to serve it.

Overall, this is a pretty easy loaf. Mix it the night before, pop it into a bag and refrigerate over night. No need for serious kneading since the overnight rest will do a fine job of developing the gluten.

I tried to think of a brilliant name for this bread, but the best I could come up with was "Soft Focaccia." Because, really, that's closest to what it is. Since there's so much flavor in the dough, you won't have to add a lot of toppings, but you could embellish it as much as you like.

The spice mix I used was a blend from a local spice shop that includes garlic, thyme, basil, oregano, and marjoram. You can use your own favorite mix, or simply use your favorite one.

Soft Focaccia

1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon mixed Italian herbs
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 cups (13 1/2 ounces) all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
1 1/4 cups water
4 ounces cheese (your choice of type) thinly slices or shredded

Combine all ingredients (except the cheese) and knead (using your favorite method) until well combined and the gluten is beginning to develop. Drizzle a zip-top bag with a little bit of olive oil, transfer the dough to the bag, and close the bag. Refrigerate over night.

The next day, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it warm up on the counter for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and flour your work surface.

Turn out the dough and knead it briefly, then stretch and cajole it to fit a standard half-sheet baking sheet. Cover it with plastic wrap or use another baking sheet of the same size as a "lid" for the pan. Set aside to rise until it feels soft and puffy - about an hour.

Top the bread with the cheese and bake at 400 degrees until the bread is browned and the cheese is melted, about 25 minutes. Check the underside of the bread to make sure it's browned and as crisp as you like it.

Remove the bread from the pan as soon as you can handle it and place it on a rack so the bottom doesn't get soggy as it cools.

This has been submitted to Yeastspotting.


Anonymous said...

Yes! Thanks for the grand idea. I wish that I had your time to play around with as many recipes as you do. Or to experiment in detail with the winners. Is there some Kitchen Time envy here? Heck yes! Thanks for your blog an posts. More than a few have become favorites around here. -Craig (Sorry. The only posting option that works is anon and it is not your fault. -C.

Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen said...

I need to try this, I love focaccia, but I've never made it. Looks great.

SallyBR said...

Love the addition of tomato paste, it gave a wonderful color to the bread, perfect for the Fall...

nice touch!

Andrea @ ForkFingersChopsticks.com said...

Thanks for posting. We enjoyed this the next day with a bowl of soup.

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