Friday, October 9, 2009

Bread Again

Dear H.

As youknow, I've been into bread lately. Something about the change in season has me baking bread and simmering soup. Perhaps it's the plethora of squash and apples, both inspiring fruit and veg. The new chill in the air has cooled down the apartment considerably. In August, and for most of September, it was sheer torture to have the oven on for any length of time. With the extra heat put out by the oven, the temperature felt well over thirty degrees. We could pretty much strip to nothing and fire up the hot yoga. Hmmm. Hot bread, hot yoga. Possible enterprise? We could call it smokin' buns.
Anyways, I've been messing around with sour dough and doughs with higher moisture content to get nice big holes in my bread. I recently picked up a book at Russels, that great used book-store, called "No Need to Knead." There's a recipe for focaccia that you should try. Only you must swear not to reveal how absurdly easy this bread is to make. It is perfect for serving with pasta, or bringing to a dinner party just to show off.

2 cups warm water
2tsp active dry yeast
4 cups flour
2 to 3 tsp salt
2 to 3 tsp olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh chopped rosemary
1 tsp kosher salt
(I also used a TBSp cornmeal and half a tsp fresh ground coffee. Feel free to play with the toppings. That's the fun part,)

Measure water into bowl then add yeast. Stir until dissolved. (I used instant yeast. I mixed it with the 2 cups flour and salt, then added the yeast. Remember, if you use instant yeast, your water needs to be hotter, about 110). Stir in 2 cups flour and mix until smooth.
Add the rest of the flour and mix until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and forms a loose, messy ball. The dough will be wet and sticky. That's okay.

Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled. It should take 30 to 40 min. (Mine took over an hour).

Shaping: Pour the dough onto a cookie sheet. Push and stretch it to fill the sheet. Or, do as I did and pour your dough into a skillet or two. I used a cast iron dutch oven. A corning ware would also work well. There is no need to shape the dough. Just let it lie as it falls into your chosen vessel. This is a very forgiving dough so don't be afraid to experiment a little. Sprinkle with olive oil and other toppings.

Let the dough rise for another half hour.

Bake the dough in a 400 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes. The bread should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Let cool on a wire rack.


  1. I want to show off at a dinner party.
    question- coffee goes where?

  2. I sometimes throw coffee on top. For a more traditional focaccia, sprinkle with olive oil (always!), fresh rosemary, coarse salt and maybe some minced garlic.