It’s that time of month again — Secret Recipe Club time! These posts are always fun for me to write. I love going on other blogs, browsing around, and picking out new and fun recipes that I had never thought of making before.
This month I was assigned to My Judy the Foodie. Shari’s blog is so sweet. It’s devoted to her mother, Judy, who died of cancer. She makes a lot of her mom’s old recipes, and talks about her mom so much in her blog. I was tearing up when I read her “About Judy” page. Wherever Judy is, she’s smiling about her daughter’s blog.
I originally wanted to make one of Judy’s recipes for SRC this month, but then I saw homemade focaccia that Shari made at a cooking class.
Homemade bread and I have an interesting love affair. When I feel the sudden need to indulge in an afternoon or evening of rising bread, kneading bread, rolling out bread, and baking bread, I have no choice but to give in. Baking is a type of therapy to me, especially the slow, gentle task of homemade bread.
So this week I was thankful to find this recipe for focaccia. Thank you, Shari!
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp of chopped, fresh rosemary (or 1 tbsp dried)
- 2 cups warm water (about 110 degrees F)
- 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (1 pkg)
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp coarse sea salt
- Mix together flour, salt, and rosemary in the large bowl of a stand mixer.
- Measure the water in a separate bowl (I did this directly in the Pyrex cup). Whisk in the yeast and 3 tbsp of the olive oil. With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir the yeast mixture into the flour mixture until all of the flour is moist. Then with the dough hook attachment to your mixer, mix the dough for 1 minute on medium-high speed until the dough comes together and starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and set aside until it doubles in side, about 1 hour.
- Spread 1 1/2 tbsp of olive oil onto an 11 x 17 inch jelly roll pan. Drop the dough onto the pan and pat and press the dough to fill the pan. Poke holes in the dough with your fingers about one inch apart. Pour the remaining 1 1/2 tbsp of olive oil onto the bread and sprinkle with salt.
- Let the dough rise again until it doubles in size, about another hour. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- When the dough is done rising, bake for 25 minutes. Cut into squares and serve!
My Two Cents: The smell of rosemary, olive oil, yeast, salt, and flour baking in the oven…oh my. They should prescribe this as medicine. (Keep this in mind future children and grandchildren when I am old and sick in the hospital and all I can eat is Jello. Just have someone come to my room and bake some bread for me. I’ll be all set in the realm of happiness.)
So if you’re not familiar with bread baking, or if you’re scared of it, don’t be. It’s pretty simple. The only thing that can really go wrong is that you either kill your yeast, or your yeast doesn’t activate — leaving you with a ball of dough that didn’t double in size, and therefore bread that doesn’t rise.
So here’s what you need to do for foolproof bread:
- Make sure your yeast isn’t expired. Expired yeast = dead yeast.
- The water temperature has to be just right. It can’t be too cold (yeast won’t activate). It can’t be too hot (yeast will die). You want the water temperature to be 105-110 degrees F. If you have a kitchen thermometer, use that. If you don’t, you can easily judge by the finger test — the water should be very warm to the touch. Not scalding. Not lukewarm. The perfect medium in between.
- If you are worried about your yeast, you can do a yeast test. Pour a little yeast into the water and wait a minute or two. Little bubbles should start to appear (nothing like baking soda and vinegar, but if it sits there and doesn’t create a few bubbles, throw it out and try again).
And then, my dear friends, after a few hours, you will have a pile of beautiful, beautiful bread.