Whenever I make a new recipe poor Doc has to be my test subject. Usually a recipe goes through several revisions. The other day I started with a recipe for homemade focaccia. It was soft and airy- the perfect texture. It was easy to make- mix with a mixer for sixty seconds, pour into a pan to rise and bake- pretty easy. Its downfall was it had no flavor. So I started adding flavorful Italian ingredients like basil, oregano, fresh rosemary, Parmesan and Romano Cheese. I finally got the right flavor combination where the focaccia tasted authentic but you didn’t have to purchase a lot of fancy ingredients.
Then I decided to use the focaccia as pizza crust. Now don’t get me wrong. The focaccia can stand on its own merit. You could dip it in olive oil or use it for sandwich bread and think it was divine but something magical happened when it became pizza. Doc said, “I could eat this every day and never get tired of it!” What a compliment!
If you’ve never made bread before don’t fear! Just pretend you are in chemistry class doing a science experiment. Measure precisely; follow directions and your focaccia will turn out great! With rising and baking time the focaccia takes 2 hours to make. If you plan on using it to make pizza, make the focaccia a day in advance, Cool completely on a wire rack then store in a plastic bag.
No Knead Focaccia
1 and 1/2 cups warm water, 120 to 130 degrees F
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling on top and coating the pan
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder (do not use garlic salt)
1/4 teaspoon onion powder (do not use onion salt)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves, divided – One tablespoon
in the dough and one on top of the dough.
1 tablespoon Instant yeast or Rapid Rise yeast
1 and 1/4 teaspoons iodized salt
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Romano cheese blend
Spray a metal 9 X 13 inch pan with non-stick spray then drizzle 1/2 tablespoon olive oil on the bottom of the pan. In a bowl of a stand mixer add the dry ingredients and stir together.
Note: if you use a hand mixer the dough will climb the beaters. Just keep pushing the dough down. Stir the flour with a fork before measuring. Also, use the flat edge of a knife to level the yeast and salt. This recipe has a lot of yeast to make it rise quickly and it has just the right amount of salt which inhibits the growth of the yeast. Bread is finicky so measure the yeast and salt precisely- No rounded teaspoons or tablespoons!
Add warm water and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Mix with a mixer on low speed for 1 minute and on high speed for 1 minute. The dough will be very sticky. Pour dough into prepared 9 X 13 inch metal pan. Turn the dough over to coat the other side with oil. Gently press dough with your fingertips until the dough touches every side of the pan. Cover dough with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with non-stick spray on the side that faces the dough. Put a dishtowel on top of the plastic wrap.
Let dough rise at room temperature for 60 minutes until it becomes puffy. If you have granite countertops set the pan on a towel so the granite won’t make the pan cold (cold dough won’t rise). While the dough is rising preheat the oven to 375 F. After rising 60 minutes gently make indentations in the dough every few inches with your index finger. Lightly drizzle ½ tablespoon olive oil on top of dough. Sprinkle remaining tablespoon rosemary on top.
Bake focaccia at 375 F for 20 to 25 minutes or until pale brown. The center of the baked bread should be 190 degrees F when tested with an instant read thermometer. Remove bread from oven. Wait 5 minutes then turn bread out on a wire rack to cool (this prevents the bottom from getting soggy).
Now to make it into Pizza! You and your kids can turn this into whatever kind of pizza you like. In fact you could make six or more different kinds of pizza at the same time and everyone would be happy. On second thought, if your family is like mine that comment may be an overstatement!
1 recipe No Knead Focaccia (see recipe above)
15 ounces pizza sauce
3 to 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Pizza toppings of your choice – pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushrooms green peppers, etc.
Cut focaccia into two halves down the center (you will have two 9 X 13 inch pieces). Place on rimmed pan- cut side up. Pour half of pizza sauce on each piece (pour sauce on cut side, not crust side). Sprinkle cheese and pizza toppings on top of pizza sauce. Bake on 400 Degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes or until toppings are hot, cheese has melted and is slightly browned. Enjoy friends!
Published in The News and Neighbor on August 20, 2014