“Patience is a virtue” especially when it comes to baking, baking bread to be more particular. This was my first experience with yeast, and man does it test your patience. Its not as simple as making cakes, beat – batter – bake. This involved kneading – patience, rising – more patience, forming, rising again – more and more patience. I have to say this tops my ten month old son, when it comes to testing your patience. But, surprisingly, I loved it. It was like this cute little science experiment, except you get to eat your experiment at the end. 😀 And the suspense to see how much it rises and how good it tastes…its worth it.
Yes, I made my first bread yesterday – nothing fancy – not too time consuming, simple, few ingredients and easy to make. It was Focaccia bread. I followed the recipe from Mark Bittman’s ‘How to Cook Everything‘, and added a few toppings.
1 tsp instant or rapid-rise yeast
3 cups all purpose or bread flour
2 tsp coarse kosher or sea salt , plus extra for sprinkling
1 to 1 1/4 cups water
3 Tbsp olive oil (plus extra for greasing)
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
1 tbsp hard grated cheese mix
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 onion sliced thin
Dissolve the yeast in 1 cup of water and let rest for 5 minutes. (I had instant yeast on hand, and used it). Mix the salt into the flour, set aside. (I didn’t have kosher salt, and used regular salt. The bread was had just a tad bit more salt than it should, so if you are using table salt like me, use 1 1/2 tsp instead). Add the olive oil to the yeast mixture. ( I just added 2 tbsp oil here. I used the remaining 1 tbsp for greasing)
Mix the flour into the wet ingredients with a wooden spoon until it begins to form into a ball. you will soon be able to mix with your hands, using a tiny bit of extra flour as needed, until the dough is smooth, but still moist. (I used my hands from the beginning, since I am used to making chapati dough, the same way). Knead into a ball and place on a lightly floured surface. sprinkle with a little more flour, cover with a towel and let rest for 20 minutes. (These 20 miutes, were the most difficult for me. I kept opening the towel, and couldn’t resist poking and prodding the dough 😀)
Meanwhile, grease a 11×17 inch baking sheet. after the 20 minutes is up, press the dough into a small rectangle on the pan and stretch a bit. let it rest a few minutes and press out toward the edges of the pan again. if the dough resists, let it rest a minute and then resume pressing/stretching.
Cover the dough and let it rise for at least 30 minutes. meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 F. In a small pan, add 2 tsps olive oil and set it over very low heat. Add the crushed garlic clove, and let it steep in the oil. When the smell of garlic hits you, about 2 minutes or so, remove the garlic clove and add the thinly sliced onion. I let the onion cook a little bit, and when I put it in the oven, it got overcooked, like crispy. So, remove the pan from the heat as soon as you add the onion and let the whole thing cool down.
Uncover the dough, dimple it with your fingertips, and drizzle the garlic flavored olive oil over the dough.Sprinkle with the onion, chopped fresh rosemary, the red pepper flakes and the cheese. I had this packet of cheese that I had gotten from a pizza order a few days back, and I used it. 🙂 (What…I hate to throw it away..)
Place in the oven, lower the temperature to 375 F and bake for 30 minutes. The focaccia should be golden – don’t let it bake too long or the edges will harden. Remove and cool on a wire rack. The bread will keep in the freezer, wrapped first in plastic and then in foil, for about 2 weeks.
Verdict: It tasted divine..chewy and garlicky. And the smell of the fresh bread coming out of the oven, its something I have never experienced before. It tasted wonderful with our pasta dinner last night. My dear husband has reserved a piece of bread for an after work snack for today already. Hmm..that should mean something 🙂
The only corrections I would make for next time, is reduce the salt, not cook the onions and add them raw. But, I have a doubt, how thick should focaccia be? I remember the ones in restaurants being sliced through for a focaccia sandwich. My bread, would be very thin, if sliced through. Is this how its supposed to be? Or did’nt my dough rise enough? I don’t know…
Maybe, I should make this with rapid rise yeast the next time..I wanted to make this a whole wheat bread, but since this was my first time. I made it with the real deal. I should say this was a very easy recipe. I even know the ingredients by heart now, since they are very few. No wonder they call Mark Bittman, the minimalist.
Speaking of which, this is my entry to this month’s potluck, the May potluck event from IHeartCookingClubs. And also, if a yeast novice may make an entry, this is going to ‘Yeastspotting‘ at Wild Yeast Blog.