Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tomato Focaccia

Do you ever have one of those mornings when you say to yourself "Better start making some bread", and as you start making your boring everyday bread that you've been making for the last two months, something makes you say "Hey! Stop being boring! Make that ciabatta bread recipe you've been eyeing forever! The one from the Martha Stewart cookbook!"
As you search for the recipe you realize the it's actually in the first volume of this cookbook series, the volume you don't own, the one you borrowed from the library, the one you're brain keeps confusing with the volume you do own. 
But alas, hope is not yet lost! What about this tomato focaccia bread? That's not boring! It might almost be considered exciting!....

No? You don't really have those mornings?

Yea me neither...

So the first time I made this I made it exactly as the recipe stated (except for substituting oregano for rosemary). It was quite delicious and extremely easy to make, but after the first bite I knew I wanted to try it again with a starter. So a week later here I am substituting 1 cup of starter for 1 cup of water, and 1 cup of flour. It wasn't until I was typing that last sentence that I realized my mistake. 1 cup of starter consists of 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup of water, meaning that I really needed to either use 2 cups of starter, or only remove 1/2 cup of each flour and water. Oops.
But ya know what? The bread tasted great. 
So for anyone nervous about bread baking here's yet another example that bread is more foolproof than you think. 

From "The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The New Classics"

2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
4 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/2 cups warm water

5 1/2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil (plus more for the bowl and pans)
6 1/4 cups plus 3 tablespoons flour
4 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt (plus more for sprinkling)
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes halved
1 tablespoon rosemary (or other fresh herbs)

Stir together the yeast, sugar and warm water in a bowl, let stand until foamy about 5 minutes.
Add 4 1/2 teaspoons of oil, and the flour and 4 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Stir until combined mixture begins to form dough. Dump out on lightly floured surface and need until smooth, about 10 minutes.

Transfer the dough to the bowl it was made in, after coating it lightly with oil. Loosely cover with plastic wrap, or a warm damp towel. Let the dough rise in a warm draft free area until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 400. Generously oil a 12" X 17" rimmed baking sheet. Spread out the dough to fill the sheet, stretching it into the corners. Press in the tomatoes, sprinkle with herbs and cover loosely. Let it rest for 30 minutes.

Drizzle the dough with remaining oil, and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 5 minutes, then rotate the sheet. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes more.

Let cool in the baking sheet, and then cut into pieces.

We enjoyed this bread paired with soup, sliced in half horizontally and used as burger buns (really good) and for grilled cheese sandwiches; used for soaking up oil and vinegar, and even as bread crumbs on mac and cheese

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