Friday, July 8, 2011

It's in the Rain

Well, I finally made my way out of the new 'blogger in draft'  layout and made my way back to the things I know. The old stuff. So now I can get back to posting on my blog!
I wanted to start by saying it is really sad that I have around 400 pictures of food on my camera, and about 150 of my children/ family.
I know it is July, but the weather has been a bit gloomy lately, and that always makes me feel like baking. Even though, somehow, it is gloomy and raining but it is hot and humid outside. I wanted to share a recipe for focaccia. I LOVE LOVE LOVE focaccia. I could eat it with everything. As a matter of fact, I do. When I make up a batch, we eat it with dinner, as an after dinner snack, I make breakfast sandwiches with it the next day and then I turn the rest into croutons or stuffing. It is absolutely delicious. If you have never made homemade bread, you have to try it. There is nothing that beats the aroma of fresh baked bread filling your house, and then eating it! I love it warm, with lots of butter. Not the fake stuff. Butter. Focaccia has all these wonderful little pockets in it that make it perfect for soaking up butter. Yum!
This is absolutely perfect for a special Italian dinner. Obviously I can't make it all the time, or else I would have to buy new clothes. Bigger clothes. But it is definitely worth the effort, just to have it once in a while.
So the next time the weather cools off, and you are in the mood to bake, throw in a batch of this bread, start a pot of coffee, and put in a Christmas CD. It makes bad weather fun!

Rosemary Focaccia
from the  Art and Soul of Baking
2 1/4 cups warm whole milk (110 to 115 F)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
5 cups flour
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 bunches fresh rosemary, leaves removed and very finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt

Combine the warmed milk and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Whisk in 1/4 cup of the flour by hand. Let the mixture sit for1 minute, or until the yeast is activated and foamy or bubbling. Whisk in another 2 cups of flour, or enough that the dough resembles a thick pancake batter. Attach the paddle attachment and mix on low speed for 4 minutes.
Add the olive oil, rosemary, and salt to the dough, attach the dough hook, and knead on low until well blended. Add the remaining 2 1/4 cups flour and knead for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and turn the dough over in the bowl so everything is mixed evenly. Continue to knead for 2 minutes longer. The dough might stick to the side of the bowl a bit but that's ok.
Lightly oil a tub or bowl and scrape the dough into the tub, lightly brushing the top with oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp lint-free towel and let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 1 to 1/2 hours.
Scrape the risen dough onto a prepared baking sheet. Lightly oil your hands and press down on the dough firmly to expel some of the air bubbles, but don't knead the dough. Begin to push and gently stretch the dough into an even layer in the pan.
Brush the top of the dough with a little olive oil and cover the plan with plastic wrap or the damp towel. Let the dough rise until it is almost doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 375. Be sure your oven is completely preheated.
Remove the plastic wrap. Dimple the dough by gently pressing your fingertips into the dough about 1/2-inch deep.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until the bread is a deep golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes, then cut with a serrated knife.

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