I saw what looked like an amazing recipe for focaccia bread on Annie's Eats; however, having never made bread before, the length of time it took to make the recipe intimidated me. I found a shorter recipe on All Recipes, so I was off! It was very simple, but it showed me I don't need to be afraid of bread. A candy thermometer is essential, and it's nice to have a mixer with a dough hook, but not completely necessary.
To be honest, I didn't love the end result. It was too dense for my liking. So why am I posting this? First off, it gets excellent reviews on All Recipes; secondly, I discovered a HUGE error after making it--I didn't knead it nearly enough. The original recipe didn't indicate how long; not only that, it said to knead it by hand, so when using the dough hook on my KitchenAid, I was uncertain when it was at its "smooth and elastic" point, also thinking that kneading with a mixer meant far less time by hand. I later read the proper times to knead, see below. I'll probably try it again in a few weeks and report back if the texture was improved!
INGREDIENTS: 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon white sugar 1 tablespoon active dry yeast 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1 teaspoon dried thyme 1/2 teaspoon dried basil 1 pinch ground black pepper 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 1 cup water 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese 1 cup mozzarella (I did not add the cheese; if using, add about half-way into baking time so it doesn't burn.)
DIRECTIONS: 1. To proof the yeast: Add 1 cup of water to small dish, heated from tap until 110 degrees. Dissolve the sugar in the water. Slowly whisk in the yeast until completely dissolved. (Do not just dump in the water as I did the FIRST try or it will become a gluey clump!) Let sit for about 10 minutes, until mixture is frothy, like so:
If the mixture doesn't become frothy, unfortunately the yeast is no longer active and you'll need to start over.
2. Add the mixture to a large bowl. Stir in salt and vegetable oil. Add in the flour, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, basil and black pepper. Mix using a spoon, or flat paddle attachment, until the dough has pulled together. Either turn out the dough on a lightly floured surface or use a dough hook to knead until smooth and elastic. According to Baking911, it's important to knead bread long enough; 8-10 minutes by hand or 5 minutes with a dough hook.
3. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place for 20 minutes. (I consulted Google and one of the suggestions was to place the bowl on top of a heating pad on low. Since the recipe doesn't allow much time for the dough to rise, I let it sit there, and it rose quite well!)
4. While the dough is rising, add the olive oil to a small saucepan and warm over low heat. Add a combination of herbs to your liking. I used small amounts of rosemary, basil, oregano, and thyme. You could also add Italian seasoning just to simplify.
3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Punch dough down; place on greased baking sheet. Pat into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Brush top with olive oil, allowing to sink in dough completely before putting in the oven. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm.
By lazy I mean BUSY. I work long hours so cooking during the week is not an option. Luckily, my husband is completely cool with this and sustains himself on yogurt, protein shakes, and peanut butter sandwiches during the week. I love to cook on weekends. Most dishes are simple, but I LOVE trying new recipes!