One of my past CSA members asked me for this recipe a very long time ago. And then she reminded me, before I switched from Flying Tomato Farms to this blog, that she’d really like me to post it.
I used to sell these little breads at our farmers market–before anyone knew it was actually illegal to do so–and before we (that is, Dakota Rural Action, the Health Dept., and the elected officials of SD) all helped codify the practice.
I see you’re still a subscriber, and I appreciate that–so this one’s for you, Jeanette. Thanks for being so patient…
The focaccia I make is just an herbed and spiced-up version of the pizza crust I make. If you’re out of bread and want something fairly quick for dinner–or a little comfort food for a snack–this is an easy, flexible recipe.
1 cup of warm liquid (water is fine; beer is better; milk works, too)
1 tsp active dry (or instant) yeast
1 TB olive or another vegetable oil, plus more for the bowl
1 TB or so honey or other mild sweetener
1/2 tsp salt
a few cups of flour–white and/or whole wheat
any combination of herbs & spices you like–fresh or dried
whatever kind of cheese you like, shredded (optional)
It is helpful to have a baking stone–I have a rectangular one that broke in half long ago, but it’s still very useful for making loaves or little breads. You could use a cookie sheet or a large cast iron griddle or skillet, too.
Put the liquid into a bowl with the yeast. Add a cup of flour and whisk. Then add 1 TB oil, the honey, and the salt. Then add your choice of herbs and spices–tonight’s blend was minced onion, oregano, fennel seed, and black pepper.
Switch to a spoon, mix, then add and mix in more flour a quarter cup at a time–white or whole wheat–until the dough pulls from the sides of the bowl.
Turn the dough out on a floured counter. I usually use white flour for the first cup, whole wheat for adding and whisking in the bowl, and then white again for kneading.
Knead, adding flour as you go, until it’s elastic and not terribly sticky. The trick with pizza/focaccia dough is to not knead/add flour overly aggressively. You want a softer bread in this case–one that’s just a little sticky and moist.
Either clean your initial bowl or use another one, and drizzle a tablespoon or two of oil in the bottom before adding the ball of dough and turning it over to oil it all over.
Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and set it aside for about twenty minutes to a half an hour. At this point, you could also put it in the fridge for an overnight stay if you like. If you do, let it warm up a bit before proceeding to the next step.
Preheat the oven along with whatever pan you’re using at 375 degrees while the dough is rising (if your pan is thin–turn down the temp a bit). After the dough has been sitting for about half an hour, pull off the damp towel and tear off palm-sized hunks of dough, rolling them in your oily hand before pressing them into flat rounds or ovals.
Open the oven and start plopping the flattened pieces of oily dough onto your hot skillet, sheet, or stone. When you’ve got them all on there, sprinkle the shredded cheese (I used goat mozzarella this time) on top and close the oven.
Bake the little breads for about 13-18 minutes. You want the cheese melted and hopefully a little browned, and the bottoms should be a light tan. Don’t overcook, or they’ll be dry.
Remove them to a rack and eat them warm if you can!
The one cup recipe makes about ten little focaccias–you can double or triple the recipe quite easily. You can also use this recipe–with or without herbs added–as a pizza dough.
Some yummy flavor combinations: dill and tarragon with swiss cheese, sage with butter-sautéed onions, anything with garlic or chives, rosemary and snipped, dried tomatoes.
The nice thing about a recipe like this is how flexible it is–consider what you have and what you’re pairing it with, and get creative!
My version tonight was paired with home-canned garden tomato soup!