28 May 2009

Red Onion and Thyme Focaccia

En français ici.Besides bank holidays in the spring, another thing the French do well is expressions. If someone asked me when I was going to start baking with yeast, in English I might say "the 12th of never" or "when pigs fly". The French would say le 36 du mois (on the 36th of the month) or else quand les poules auront des dents (when hens grow teeth).

Did I mention I'm afraid of yeast? I mean, it's alive. You have to take care of it, treat it right, not too hot, not too cold, etc. I see all these great bread recipes circulating and I think, "maybe someday..." Last week, I decided enough is enough. I've been meaning to try this fantastic focaccia recipe that I found on Antics of a Cycling Cook. If you've been cooking with yeast forever, you can go ahead at laugh at my anxiety faced with such a basic recipe. If you're afraid of yeast like me, let me encourage you: this bread is easy to make, a good recipe to overcome your fears!

I used Sam's instructions for the dough (thanks Sam!) and then played around with the toppings, which I highly encourage. It could be a good way to use up whatever you might have in the fridge/pantry.

350g/12oz white bread flour (2 US cups)
One sachet of yeast
1/2 tsp salt
200ml warm water (slightly less than 1 cup)
50ml Extra virgin olive oil (slightly less than 1/4 cup)

olive oil
sea salt
1/2 red onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
5-6 sprigs fresh thyme, minced

Mix the flour, yeast and salt together in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the oil and water. Bring together to form a dough and knead for a few minutes on a well floured surface (don't worry if the dough is sticky - that's normal. You'll want to flour your hands too).

Put the dough back into the bowl and cover with wax paper (Sam uses plastic wrap but I didn't have any), and leave to rise in a warm place for at least 1 1/2 hours or overnight. I let it rise about 3-4 hours in my oven which apparently has a setting for rising dough - amazing!

Once the dough has risen, knock it back and press out onto a large baking tray. Don't worry about leaving your finger prints in the dough, they'll stop the olive oil running off.

Drizzle the dough generously with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Add your toppings (go ahead and be liberal with them). Leave to rise again for about 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 400F/200C. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden. It's delicious served warm!

I'm submitting this recipe to Bookmarked Recipes, which is being hosted this week by Joelen from Joelen's Culinary Adventures.

The rules to participate are here. Don't forget to check out the roundup next Monday!


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Wonderful! Your focaccia is magnificent and must taste great!



Anonymous said...

Luckily (or unluckily, depending on how you look at it) I think my starter has died - I was going to see if you wanted to babysit it, too!

Cicero Sings said...

That looks so good ... I wish I didn't like bread so much!

Sam said...

Good to see you overcome your fear of yeast!

Your focaccia looks brilliant, isn't it just wonderful fresh from the oven.

Hopie said...

Rosa - Thank you! Cheers!

Camille - Too bad, could have been fun, but I think I'm more apt to take care of a cat ;-)

Cicero - I know. There's nothing like good fresh bread.

Sam - Mmmm, yes. So yummy. Thanks again!

Ivy said...

Your focaccia sounds great, I love the flavours in it.

Psychgrad said...

I had to smile at your fear of yeast because it's alive. Maybe that's my problem too. I think it's also the kneading that may be required and the numerous failures.

But, clearly your focaccia looks excellent -- so you must have done something right.

Julia said...

Good idea for using up leftovers on the focaccia! Looks beautiful... see? nothing to be scared of.

giz said...

First off, your focaccia looks amazing. Facing your fears head on is brave and satisfying unless of course it's a rattle snake. I'm going to have to try this recipe....after the wedding marathon.

Hopie said...

Ivy - Thanks! The combination worked well.

Psychgrad - Glad to know I'm not the only one! For this recipe, minimal kneading is required so your wrists don't get to too tired. I have to admit, I feel all 17th century housewife-y in a satisfactory (non small-pox) kind of way when I knead ;-)

Julia - Thanks. I'm glad I gave it a try. Maybe I can move onto to other yeasty breads!

Giz - I agree with you on a facing fears (minus rattlesnakes). Thanks for your encouragement and good luck with the wedding marathon :-)