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I love bread. Okay, well that’s a bit of an understatement, I am obsessed with bread. And since the day I discovered I indeed had the ability to make this wonderful foodstuff myself my house has been filled with that wonderful warm, yeasty smell at least once a week. (More if I have an “oops!”, one must have at least one good loaf of bread in this house at all times.)
It’s been a bad bread month in my house. I’ve failed miserably at a French loaf, even my normally lovely challah has been awful. But this? Oh it was Good. Capital G good. And barely more complex than pizza dough. A perfect way to regain my bread-confidence and a really fabulous first bread for a new baker.
Adapted from How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman
Red Onion and Rosemary Focaccia
- 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour (Keep a little extra close by, you might just find you need it!)
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 2 teaspoons sea salt (Again, keep it nearby for sprinkling later.)
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
- 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary leaves (Fresh is best, but if you only have dry-go for it!)
- 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/8 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
First off: I have no mixer, so I do all this by hand. If you have one and are familiar with how it should be used to mix dough, go right ahead! I won’t fault you one bit, the only reason I don’t have one is my kitchen is packed to the gills as it is.
In a large mixing bowl, toss in your flour, yeast, salt and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add a cup of warm water and begin mixing. Keep adding water a bit at a time until you’ve got a big sticky ball in your bowl. (I think I ended up with about a cup and a half of water in there all told, but this can really vary.) Keep adding water until you get the right texture, and if you’ve gone too far just add a couple tablespoons of flour to try and get it back to that sticky ball I keep mentioning.
Dust a small area of your countertop with flour and turn your dough out onto it. Knead until you’ve got a smooth ball, toss it in a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Sit it in a warm corner of your kitchen and forget about it for an hour or two, or until that bad boy has doubled in size.
Use that last full tablespoon of olive oil to grease the bottom of your pan. I used one that was about 9×13 and would really use a slightly larger one next time, I like it a little thinner than this batch turned out. Place your dough in the center of the pan and begin pressing it outward to the edges. Don’t force it, don’t break it: Be gentle! If it won’t go all the way this time, kiss it on the cheek and come back a little later. Just remember to cover it and come back in a few minutes. Once you’ve coaxed it to the edges, cover again and let it sit for another half hour or so.
Heat your oven to 375. Uncover your dough and poke at it repeatedly. Make it angry! Dimple the entire surface with your fingertips and then gently drizzle olive oil over the top. Arrange your red onion slices over it, sprinkle your cheese and liberally salt it. Stick that gorgeous thing in the oven for about a half an hour or until it is golden and just begging to be eaten. Let it cool on a wire rack at least long enough you won’t burn your tongue while you’re shoving it in your mouth.
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