Disclaimer: I am an admitted Breadaholic, unashamedly addicted to baking and eating all things yeasty... fragrant, fresh from the oven and frequently slathered with butter. Imagine my delight in finding a newly formed blogging group of bakers, the Bread Baking Society, dedicated to sparking a passion for bread baking across the nation and the world around. Their May focus was focaccia. Check out the beginning post from CakeDuchess and meet the three amazing bakers who began it all.
I knew I had to join in the fun yesterday, immediately, that very afternoon, before May ended. My galley countertop held a bouquet of fresh mint and a pot of basil, the fridge stored a plastic bag with half-a-recipe of my usual pizza dough (link), and that was a beginning. I've played with focaccia before, usually with assertive savory topping combinations like gorgonzola, anchovies and spiced nuts. For this effort I planned to use a more restrained hand with the toppings and flavor the dough with fresh herbs.
And then I hesitated when it came time to select the toppings. What if we hated something that was too weird or wimpy? Could I handle the disappointment? Caution ruled and I split the half-recipe of dough in half again to make two smaller focaccia ovals. I kneaded 1 tablespoon of fresh basil shreds into the first dough portion, and a scant 1/4 cup of chopped mint leaves into the remaining dough. The dough with basil called for more traditional, Mediterranean-leaning accompaniments. Caramelized onions, kalamata olive halves and a sprinkling of shredded Parmesan cheese topped that loaf. Mmmmmm, good tasting focaccia but nothing special. I'd add feta with herbs next time.
The minty dough was the real surprise. Topped with sweetened caramelized onions, pine nuts and a light sprinkle of grated lemon zest, that focaccia rocked! The onion slices had some charred edges, but who cared? Not me. Not RL. Some of the pine nuts fell off as we ate slice after slice, but who cared? Did we even notice? No way. We just enjoyed the distinctly mint-flavored bread with a crunch from pine nuts, the light notes of slightly sweet, mellow onions and tangy, citrusy lemon... OMG it was terrific.
Dinner last night featured grilled Merguez sausages and red pepper strips, but we really focused our appetites on that surprising Minty Foccacia.
Focaccia with Herbs
Cooking notes rather than a recipe; focaccia is adaptable
- Use your favorite pizza dough recipe, quantity appropriate to the amount of focaccia desired, and knead in some chopped fresh herbs. A half-recipe of my favorite Bonita Atkins pizza dough made two 6x10" oval foccacia. After the first rise, shape the dough and place the ovals (or rectangles) on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Let rise again for about 40 minutes, or until somewhat puffy.
- Press gently with your fingertips to dimple the top
- Brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
- Add a few toppings if you like, or let it go unadorned.
- Bake in a preheated 400 F oven for 20-25 minutes. Let cool slightly before cutting - if you can resist.