July 8, 2010

Antipasto Fridays: Focaccia Bread

As Puddy famously pondered: why don't we have dip for dinner? And why does happy hour have to end on Friday afternoons when the sun doesn't set until 9 o'clock? In that spirit, we started Antipasto Fridays as a low-cook, snacky way to herald the coming of the weekend. This series will introduce small plate favorites during the week so it may grace your own weekend opening ceremonies.

I admit that making bread from scratch is probably outside the bounds of a no-cook Friday in the heat of summer. But the beauty of this recipe is that so many steps can be accomplished ahead of time. And the magic of pulling out a crispy round from the oven will surely impress your happy hour crew.

Lemon Focaccia
Adapted from The Kitchn

This amount of dough will yield 4 8-inch rounds. For a Friday afternoon, make a few rounds earlier in the week and save one or two in the freezer until game time.

1 envelope (2-1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
6 tablespoons really good extra virgin olive oil
4 cups bread flour, plus more for kneading
2 teaspoons salt
Really good extra virgin olive oil
Leaves of 2-4 branches fresh rosemary, chopped
2 lemons, washed and very thinly sliced into rounds
Coarse sea salt

Earlier in the week:
1. Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water in a medium bowl. Stir in 1-1/4 cups water and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.

2. Pulse the flour and salt together in the bowl of a food processor [or just use a bowl]. Add the yeast mixture and process until a rough ball of dough forms, 1 minute. Briefly knead dough on a floured surface until smooth. Shape dough into a ball. Put 2 tablespoons of the oil into a large bowl. Roll dough around in bowl until coated with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm spot until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours.

3. Quarter the dough and decide how many to make now and store the rest in the freezer protected by plastic wrap. Be sure to remove any stored in the freezer 18-24 hours prior to baking. Unwrap and allow to rise in a covered bowl.

To bake:
4. Preheat the oven to 450°. Pour a thin film of oil into each 8-inch round cake pans. Using your fingertips, spread one dough ball out in each pan. The dough is elastic and will resist stretching. Let it relax for 5 minutes or so after you've stretched it as far as it will go. Eventually, it will cooperate and fill the pan. Cover the pans with damp dishcloths and let the dough rest until it has swollen in the pans a bit, 30-60 minutes.

5. Uncover the pans. Sprinkle the dough with the rosemary. Using your fingertips, poke dimples into the dough in each pan, then liberally drizzle with oil so it pools in the hollows. Arrange just the thinnest rounds of lemon on top, drizzle with more oil, and sprinkle with sea salt.

6. Bake the focaccia until golden brown, 20-30 minutes. Drizzle with more oil when you pull the focaccia from the oven. Serve cut into wedges.


Natalie | The Bobby Pin said...

Totally bookmarking this. Amazing!

Chris said...

I Love the lemon focacia! I've had the pleasure of eating it made by Nicole and it's delicious!!!