Focaccia Bread

Have you ever had Focaccia Bread before?  To say it is delicious is an understatement!  It’s unbelievably, insanely, delightfully, ridiculously delicious! 

If you’ve never had it, it’s similar to pizza, but has a much thicker “crust.”  It’s bread that is flattened out then topped with herbs and olive oil….and if you’re at my house, Roma tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese.

I started making Focaccia Bread after our first trip to Buca di Beppo.  If you’ve never eaten at Buca di Beppo, you are MISSING OUT!  That place is AWESOME!!!  They bring out this big ole basket of bread for you to munch on while you’re waiting for your food.  The next thing you know, you’ve eaten 18 buckets of that bread and have no room for the gnocchi you ordered.  Not that I’ve EVER done that before, mind you.  Ever.  Yeah, moving on……..cuz I might incriminate myself.  The point is, that bread is SOOOOOOOOOOOOO good! 

So I came home and tried to recreate it.  And I failed miserably.  What I came up with was fabulous, but it wasn’t anything like Buca di Beppo bread because theirs is so much more chewy and crusty than mine.  Both delicious, but very, very different!

The first time I made this bread, my brother ate nearly half of it by himself.  And it’s HUGE!  He couldn’t get enough of that bread.  So I started playing around with it and experimenting until I got what I’m sharing with you today.  Let me preface this by saying that in-season, fresh ingredients are far better than what I had to use when I made this recently.  But I just couldn’t wait until summer!    So without further ado…..here’s the amazing Focaccia Bread.

Here’s what you’ll need:

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All Purpose or Bread Flour, warm water, olive oil, salt, yeast, minced garlic, fresh cracked pepper, Roma tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil.  The fresh basil somehow managed to hide from me when I took this photo.  So he got left out in the cold for this shot.  He’ll show up down the page!

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See this glorious machine?  I LOVE this machine.  I want to marry it and have its babies!  If you don’t have one of these, I HIGHLY recommend that you drop what you’re doing…..seriously, QUIT READING!  Open another tab, shoot over to Amazon.com and fetch yourself one IMMEDIATELY!  I LURVE my Kitchen Aid stand mixer!  And I want the world to have them!  If you’ve got one already, go take the cover off it and let’s get busy!  If not, I’m sorry.  You’re going to have to wait on the nice UPS man to bring yours in a few days or wear your arms out kneading this dough by hand.  But the good news about that is, you’ll develop some wicked biceps doing it!  That’s why I don’t have wicked biceps.  I let the Kitchen Aid knead my dough for me.  🙂  Yeah, let’s go with that! 

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Add the warm water to the bowl.

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Now pour in the olive oil.  You *can* use another kind of oil, but I don’t recommend it.  Olive oil is MUCH tastier and it’s also much healthier than most other oils.

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See the garlic?  LOVE the garlic!  Garlic=GOOOOOOOOOD, man!  So go ahead and dump in a bunch! 

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Next to go in is the salt. 

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Crack some peppercorns to add in.  Now if you don’t have a pepper grinder, you can certainly add black pepper out of a can.  But it will NOT do for this dough what freshly cracked pepper will do.  I have a really fancy wooden pepper grinder.  I also have a glass one that my brother and his family brought back to me from their trip to France.  I have a small glass pepper grinder that was my first one years ago.  The one you saw in the first photo came from Sam’s.  It was about $3-4.  It is WELL worth that $3-4!  Trust me!  You’ll find you use it all the time once you have one in the house!

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Add in the flour and you’re almost ready!

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Finally, add the yeast.  And you’re ready to roll……or knead as it were. 

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Attach the dough hook and turn the mixer on low.  Leave it on low until all the ingredients are combined.  Once the dough starts coming together, increase the speed to a low-medium.  Let the mixer knead the dough about 10 minutes.

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 And this is what you’ll end up with! 

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OK, let’s have a little true confession thrown in here.  This is my flat, round Pampered Chef stone.  I swirled a little extra virgin olive oil on it before adding the dough to it.  But see that little place I circled up there?  Looks like there’s a little rectangular box on the stone?  That would be where the Ankle Biters set a bottle of spray bleach on my stone.  Thank you Ankle Biters!   ***rolling eyes***  Rub the olive oil all over the stone before placing the dough on the stone.

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Now add your little ball of dough to the center of the stone. focaccia-14

Press with your fingers from the center of the dough until you have it stretched completely to the edges of the stone like this.

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See those “dimples” in the dough?  You can use either the end of a wooden spoon or what I call the “frog method.”  I prefer to use the “frog method” for this instead of a wooden spoon.  Remember being in school and someone “frogging” you with their middle finger knuckle?  That’s what I do.  I “frog” the dough with the knuckle of my middle finger until it’s dimpled all over.  The little indentions will stay in the dough after it has risen.  Then the cheese we’re going to add later will have a place to ooze into!

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Now cover it with a clean kitchen towel and set it somewhere warm so the dough can rise.  And NO, the stovetop wasn’t on!  YIKES!  I set it here so it would be under the warm light over the stove.

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This is what it looks like when it has risen.  It’s ready for the oven now.  Prebake the bread about 25 minutes before adding the toppings.

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While the dough is in the oven, prepare the toppings.  Here are the Roma tomatoes sliced up and ready to go!

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Aha!  Here’s Mr. Basil!  He finally showed up for this party!  You can find fresh basil in little flat, plastic containers in the produce section of the grocery store.  I prefer basil I grow myself.  But unfortunately, it’s winter so I have none growing right now and had to buy this.  Pull the leaves off the stems and stack each leaf one on top of the next. 

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Roll the leaves up jellyroll-style  into a little log like this.  Then with a sharp knife, cut thin ribbons.  That’s called “chiffonade.”

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This is what you’ll end up with.  Pretty little basil confetti.

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Next slice up the fresh mozzarella cheese and here we have all our little friends together…..just waiting for the bread to finish baking.

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Let’s start building this party!  Layer the sliced mozzarella onto the hot bread.

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Don’t overlap them too much because they’re going to spread when they get hot.

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Add the slices of Roma tomato on top of the cheese.

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Sprinkle the basil all over the top.

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It’s about ready for the oven……just needs a little more freshly cracked pepper……

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See?  Like this?  Be liberal with it!  This ain’t sissy food!  Now it’s ready for another little trip into the oven.  Just for about 4-5 minutes until the cheese begins to get ooey gooey and run everywhere!

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A little something like this!  Boy, I bet you’re sitting there wishing you had a scratch and sniff screen right now, huh?

BUT WAIT!  We aren’t done yet!  As if this wasn’t evil enough as it is!  We’re going to make some sauce to dip it in! 

Start by chopping up some onions……..

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Like this……….you want them fairly small since this is going to be a dipping sauce and not a thick, chunky sauce to pour over pasta………although it WOULD be awfully good over some pasta too!

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Heat some oil and butter over medium-high heat.  My butter melted into the oil before I could get the photo made.  But there’s about a Tbsp. each of butter and olive oil.

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Now add the onions to the hot tub!  You’re not trying to fry them, just sweat out their natural sugar a little bit.

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When they’re ready, they’ll look like this…..and now I’M wishing for a scratch and sniff screen!  I LOVE the smell of onions!

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Pour in a large can of crushed tomatoes.

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Add some minced garlic.

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See that little tube?  That’s AWESOME stuff contained within!  It’s Pesto in a tube.  Pesto is a sauce made with copious amounts of fresh basil, olive oil and pine nuts.  But unfortunately, I have no fresh basil growing outside right now to make my own with and buying enough fresh basil to make my own would’ve cost an arm and a leg.  So this little tube is presto-pesto magic, friends!  You can pick some up at my favorite place on earth…..WHOLE FOODS!

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Now add a little cracked pepper and give it a stir.  Simmer it until you can’t stand it anymore and then dunk that glorious bread in it!!!!

And I got so busy with folks trying to eat this stuff, that I failed to get a photo of the bread after it was cut and being dunked in the sauce.  SORRY!  I’m trying to do better, y’all!  I really am!

Focaccia Bread

*  3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

*  1 Tbsp. minced garlic

*  12 oz. warm water

*  4 cups all purpose or bread flour

*  1 packet yeast

*  1 tsp. salt

Add all ingredients into mixer bowl and mix until blended.  Knead 10 minutes.  Oil surface of baking stone and press dough out until surface is covered.  Create dimples in the dough using the end of a wooden spoon handle or with your finger.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise until doubled in height.  Baked in a preheated 375° oven about 25 minutes. 

While bread is baking, slice fresh mozzarella, Roma tomatoes and basil for the top.  When bread comes out of the oven, immediately top with cheese, tomatoes, basil and fresh cracked pepper.  Return to oven 4-5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Focaccia Dipping Sauce

*  28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

*  1 medium onion, diced fine

*  1 Tbsp. minced garlic

*  2 Tbsp. pesto from tube

*  fresh cracked pepper to taste

*  1 Tbsp. butter

*  1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Sweat onions in butter and olive oil.  Add canned tomatoes, garlic, pesto and black pepper.  Simmer 20 minutes.  If you can make it that long! 

And friends, that’s Focaccia Bread and dipping sauce.  I will warn you now that it is EVIL stuff!  You can’t imagine how evil until you start dunking that bread in the sauce! 

I hope you enjoy this one as much as my family does!  I know it *looks* like a lot of work, but it’s really not.  It’s fairly simple, in fact!  Give it a whirl!  You’ll be a rock star! 

Have a great day!

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6 Responses

  1. Love the Kitchen Aid mixers as well. I have five of them and love them all.

  2. This looks so delicious .. gonna try it soon .. Laila .. http://limeandlemon.wordpress.com/

  3. OOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!
    AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!
    *****AS I BOW IN THE PRESENCE*****

  4. this is rising on my counter as we speak….but i forgot to put in pepper in the bread……… 😦

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