What I've learned over the past year is that bread is not scary. However, if you're hesitant to make your own bread, you should start out with a simple focaccia recipe like the one below. Focaccia has one 1-hour rise time before it's ready to face an eagerly awaiting oven. There is no shaping, no braiding, and no dividing; you just flatten the dough into a thick slab, poke some holes to relive bubbling, and begin the 20 minute bake time. Unlike other breads that bake on a baking pan or in a loaf pan, focaccia bakes in a 9x13 casserole style dish which makes it easy to transport or cut into uniform pieces. The texture of the bread is doughy and similar to a deep dish pizza. In fact, Sicilian style pizza is considered to be a variant of focaccia bread.
After I bit of research, I learned that "panis focacius" dates back to ancient Rome and derives from the Latin word "focus" which translates to "hearth, place for baking" - how appropriate! Although focaccia bread can be used for sandwiches, mine is a side dish that holds ground when topped with sun-dried tomatoes, caramelized onions, fresh rosemary, and shredded Parmesan cheese.
Sun-Dried Tomato, Onion, and Rosemary FocacciaFrom: The Culinary Chronicles
1 package dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon honey
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon Kosher Salt, divided
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/2 Cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1. In a medium bowl, stir together yeast, warm water, and honey. Let rest until yeast blooms and bubbles form on top, about 10 minutes.
2. Stir in flour, 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 teaspoon kosher salt.
3. Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead until dough is smooth, about 5 to 10 minutes.
4. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and let rest in a warm place until dough doubles in size, about 1 hour. I usually warm the oven to 200 degrees, shut it off, and then place the bowl inside the oven.
5. After 1 hour, preheat oven to 450 degrees F. (remove the bowl first if you used my method!)
6. Remove dough from bowl and press it into a lightly oiled 9- by 13-inch baking dish until it touches the edges.
7. Using your finger, poke deep holes all over the dough. Drizzle the dough with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Let rest until the dough becomes puffy, about 20 minutes.
8. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add onion slices, cover and cook until onion is golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.
9. Top the dough with caramelized onions, rosemary, Parmesan cheese, and salt. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil.
10. Bake for about 10-15 minutes and add sun-dried tomatoes (they will burn very quickly). Return to the oven and continue baking until the focaccia is golden brown, about another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack. Cut into pieces and serve.
Photo by: Zac Wolf Photography