Homemade Focaccia Bread

It's true that you can make Focaccia, the rustic-looking dimpled bread, from pizza dough.  If you're in a hurry, that's the way to go.  If, however, you have a few extra minutes to boil a potato, this recipe makes an unbelievably moist and tender Focaccia with a lovely crisp exterior.  It's absolutely delicious.

When I make this I have to hide it until dinner time so my husband doesn't fill up on it.  He starts out with the intent to just eat a small piece off of the corner, then moves to the center, then, whoops!  needs another piece.  Truth be known, it's slightly addictive.

You can add any toppings you desire, although be careful with dried herbs as they can burn.

Homemade Focaccia Bread
Makes 1 - 18x13 inch flatbread
Source:  America's Test Kitchen Cookbook

1 russet potato (8 oz), peeled and cut into large chunks
3 1/2 - 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 package {2 1/4 teaspoons} yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons regular salt
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
1 small eggplant, if desired
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, if desired
1 T chopped sage, or other herb you choose
coarse sea salt or kosher salt, for sprinkling

Prepare a large bowl with non-stick spray and set aside.
Boil the potato in 2 cups or more of water until fork tender.  Remove from heat to cool, and reserve 1 cup of the potato cooking water.  Allow both to come to room temperature {potato water should be no warmer than 110 degrees Fahrenheit before moving on}.  Once they’re cool enough to handle, grate the potato pieces {you need approx. 1 cup of lightly packed potato}.  Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the grated potato, flour (start with only 3 1/2 cups), yeast, regular salt and 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil.  Mix with a dough hook.  With mixer running on low, add the potato water and continue mixing, until the dough comes together, about 2 minutes.  Increase the mixer speed to medium-low and mix {knead} dough for about 8 minutes, allowing the dough to become smooth and elastic.  If, after 4 minutes, the dough is still sticking to the sides of the bowl, add additional flour, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until it clears the side but sticks to the bottom.  This is a wet dough.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand to form a smooth, round ball.  Place the dough in the previously prepared large bowl, cover with a damp towel or greased plastic, and allow to rise, in a warm place, until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
If using an eggplant, cut the eggplant into thin slices.  If you're concerned that it may be bitter {if it's fresh and smaller, it shouldn't be} lightly salt the slices and allow to sit in a colander to drain.  Lightly rinse off and pat dry before adding to the Focaccia.
Coat an 18 x 13-inch rimmed baking sheet with 1/4 cup olive oil.  With damp hands, press the dough into the pan, spreading it as you press, so it reaches all four sides.  Brush the dough with 1 Tablespoon more of the oil, cover loosely with plastic wrap or a damp towel, and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  With damp hands, dimple the dough, drizzle with the 1 Tablespoon remaining olive oil.  Add the chopped sage, Parmesan, and eggplant slices, if using.
Bake 20-25 minutes, or until the Focaccia is a golden brown and crisp.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

1 comment:

Diane said...

I really miss bread since going gluten free. I have had this bread recipe from a farmers market before and it is my absolute favorite.