Friday, November 03, 2006


Two mom recipes in one week! She’ll be so proud.

I am not a baker, but I was pleasantly surprised by how easy this bread was to make and how well it turned out—simple, rustic, tasting of rosemary and red onion, crisp outside and soft inside. I made it on Wednesday night, because I’d gotten home earlier than usual (thank you, optometrist appointment that allowed me to miss the last two hours of work). I’d planned to make Butternut Squash-Leek Soup, and soup is always nicer with something to dip into it, and I thought the flavors would go well together, so I decided to try my mom’s focaccia recipe. I always enjoyed it while growing up, though back then I was more of an onion-phobe and would occasionally get squeamish about the soft, slimy-seeming pieces of onion interrupting the soft sponginess of the bread. (You’ll notice I had a similar texture-based complaint about the presence of dried fruit in granola—apparently, I didn’t care for textural contrasts in my food at the time.) Now I like onions, so why not?

The kitchen got messy and the loaves were a little deformed, but that’s just my baking incompetence. Cut into wedges, the bread looked and tasted delicious, paired felicitously with the soup, and was a big hit with A. (He was neutral about the soup, but high-fived me for the bread.) In fact, we ended up eating an entire loaf (the smaller of the two, at least) between us during that one meal. I’d really like to try the focaccia as a base for a sandwich this weekend. That is, if there’s any left by then.

1 packet dry yeast (1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary (or 2 tablespoons dried; of course, I recommend the fresh)
½ cup finely chopped red onion
4 to 4½ cups all-purpose flour

1. Stir together yeast, sugar, and ½ cup warm water in a large bowl, and let stand 5 minutes.

2. To the yeast mixture, add salt, 1 cup warm water, olive oil, rosemary, and onion. Gradually stir in flour.

3. Knead dough on a floured surface (if dough seems too sticky, add more flour). Place in an olive-oil-greased bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, and let rise until double, about 45 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

5. Divide the dough into two pieces. Shape each piece into a flat round, about ½ inch thick. Place on olive-oil-greased baking sheets and brush loaves generously with olive oil. Let stand for 15 minutes.

6. Bake at 350 on the bottom oven rack for 15 minutes, then move to the top rack and bake for 10-15 more minutes, until lightly browned.

Makes: 2 loaves
Time: 1 hour 45 minutes (mostly rising/baking time)

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