Focaccia should be simple and is often one of the first breads made by beginning bakers. It is such a great teaching tool for using yeast, but start searching for recipes and there are plenty that require literally hours of time. One recipe I have made before takes 8 hours! This one takes only 2 and most of that is rising time. You can vary the herbs to fit those you have on hand and prefer, but it is delicious as is and can fit into a wide variety of menu options. Dedicate just a bit of your afternoon to it and you’ll have a beautiful addition to dinner tonight.
Yield: 12 servings
1/3 cup olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
1 teaspoon dried oregano or rosemary (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup warm water
1 packet (2-1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon honey
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
Place the oil, garlic, thyme, oregano and pepper in a cold medium skillet. Put over low heat and allow to infuse for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
Meanwhile, combine the water, yeast and honey in a mixing bowl and allow to stand 5 minutes. Add a cup of the flour and 1/4 cup of the infused oil and stir until the mixture is moistened. Let stand another 5 minutes. Add the remaining flour and salt and stir until the dough comes together. Transfer to a floured surface and knead 15 times until the dough is smooth. Transfer to an oiled mixing bowl and cover with a warm, damp towel. Let rise 1 hour in a warm area away from drafts.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Grease a 9×13-inch rimmed baking sheet (Note: This is a half size of a regular baking sheet. If you don’t have, use a round pizza pan). Place the dough on the prepared pan and evenly distribute. Use your fingers to dimple the dough and top with the remaining infused oil. Spread evenly across the top and let rise for 20 minutes. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack at least 10 before serving warm or cool completely and serve at room temperature.