Sunday, March 9, 2008

Foccacia (Italian Herb Bread)...

Winter is one time of the year I actually donot mind spending hours in front of a Hot Oven be it in the comfort of our Home or at Work...It is just not the heat but the delicious aromas that waft around the apartment when baking anything that actually inspires me to bake more and more...especially on a cold evening and guess what it tickles B's hunger pangs even more and he actually eats more than he usually does (which I am very happy about...because he is thin as a stick)...and enjoys the meal...and usually does not complain like he always does...

I was on a Bread Baking Mania sometime back...one item that I made sure that I baked on a regular basis was an Italian Herb Bread variety known as "Foccacia"... There is always a great debate on how the word 'Foccacia' is spelt and pronounced. Anyways I got this spelling from one of my teachers at school and he seems to be quite sure that this is the spelling...

We personally prefer this to the regular bread because it has olive oil and oregano, two of my favourite ingredients...and you can pile on any top garnish as you wish...I personally grate some cheddar cheese, chop up some olives and sun-dried tomatoes and spread that on top...to give that extra boost of taste....

You can eat this bread as it is or slice up and use as regular bread with whatever fillings you prefer...I eat it slices as it warm from the oven....or sometimes use it as an accompaniment to the soups and pasta dishes I make...

So here goes the recipe...to make one Loaf...
Ingredients:
250ml Water(lukewarm)
8gms Dry Yeast(1 Sachet) or 5gms if using Fresh Yeast
350gms Plain Flour
1teaspoon Salt
1teaspoon Dry Oregano
20ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Other Ingredients: (Optional)
A few Sun-Dried tomatoes( roughly diced)
A few Spanish Black Olives(sliced)
A Tablespoon of grated Cheddar Cheese
Some Dried Oregano to sprinkle on top
Olive Oil

Process:
1. Firstly Warm water until is body temperature or lukewarm...add the yeast to it and a teaspoon of SUGAR...then cover it and leave it aside for about 10 minutes...

2. Meanwhile sieve the flour... and add the salt, olive oil and dried oregano to the flour and mix in the ingredients well..

3. The yeast water after 10 minutes should appear frothy proving that the yeast has started growing...add this water to the flour mix and mix it till it becomes a smooth dough...if the dough appears sticky then add a little more flour to make the dough smooth...but a little moisture will actually help the dough to proove(yeast growing) well...knead well using your palms for about 10 minutes

4. Then place the dough in an oiled bowl...cover it and keep in it in a warm spot...and leave it till the dough doubles in size...

5. Then roll out the dough onto a floured surface and knock out all the air bubbles while kneading it...the dough will become its original size...

6. Then using fingers only shape the dough in the form of a loaf... and place it on a well oiled baking tray...(see the picture below for reference)


6. Then again place it in a warm spot the loaf increases in size (the above picture shows the already increased size of the loaf)...

7. Preheat the Oven to 180*C...

8. On the increased loaf, brush the top of the loaf liberally with olive oil...and sprinkle it with more Oregano...you can leave it like that if you donot like any other topping...but as I said earlier I like some stuff so I sprinkle grated cheese, olives and sun-dried tomatoes...(check the picture below for reference)



9. Then bake the loaf for about 15 - 20 minutes...the top of the loaf must be golden and when you lift the loaf and tap it on the bottom side...it should sound hollow...(be very careful when lifting the loaf to check this it will be very hot....use your oven mutt...so that it wont burn you...)

10. The finished product looks as the picture below...and as I already said you can eat as it is...and believe me the aromas are awesome and taste this warm bread on your palate cannot be described...and you will definitely fall in love with the art of Bread Baking...Trust me [:-)]



I will follow up this recipe with a wholesoup soup for which this bread goes as a great accompaniment...

Variation:
If you dont like Oregano...you can use dried Rosemary or Thyme....or any Italian Dried Herbs...

Image Source: My Trusty Phone Camera
Recipe Source: Bread Baking Class (with my own additions and deletions ofcourse..he he...:-D)

Disclaimer: Oven Temperatures Vary...so adjust accordingly...

Try this out and do let me know how it comes out...If you are trying baking bread for the first time...I suggest that you follow the recipe as it is...to avoid disappointment..(because remember baking is a art that you need to master before you can alter it...I have tried this many many times before I have gained the confidence...)

So Happy Cooking....:-)

8 comments:

Apple said...

Hey Amu...I love this recipe of yours...nenu chaala try chesaanu..kaanee naaku raaledu :(...anni steps follow ayaanu...naaku dough double sizeki raaledu (waited for 4 long hrs)...nenu use chesina yeast sarigga pani cheyyaledemo....so outer crust baavundindi kaanee lopala fluffyga raaledu...but 'm not gonna give up :D..baaga vache daaka try chesthaa,...nenu dry yeast (bought it 6 months back, appudu burger buns try chesinappudu it worked) use chesaa...

Amu... said...

Hey keerthulu....
dont worry...bread baking eppudu ante....i am sure you will get it next time....

oka solution...check your yeast...dry yeast okate ayite...konni sarlu it will play up....(plus expiry date kuda chudu...)

oka pani cheyyi next time...INSTANT DRY YEAST (incomparison to DRY YEAST )try cheyyi...it is a better option....

dont worry...i failed 3 times before things worked for me too...[:-)]

Padma said...

Amu, I would love to try this soon!
Tell me instant dry yeast and active dry yeast ki teeda emiti? Yesterday only I bought I-D-yeast but now I am in dilemma, which one is good at rising?

Amu... said...

@Padma...
There One Difference between Dry Yeast and Dry Active...
With Dry Yeast...We need to activate it frist...ante like i explained above...Koncham lukewarm water lo disolve chessi and add sugar...and you need to wait it the mixture froths up and alost double in size...ante Yeast has become active ani which helps in proving(raising) the dough to make the bread...

But With Dry Active Yeast...you can just disolve in water and add it right away to the dough mixture...and leave the dough aside for prooving...

Hope your query is answered...So follow the first step here for your yeast....

Thank You...:)

myspicykitchen said...

amu, can i use wholemeal flour instead of plain four? thinking of trying out either dinner rolls or Foccacia...

Amu... said...

@Usha....the answer to your query abt using Wholemeal flour is YES...You can use dear...only thing is the bread become a little denser...and dough harder...make sure to use a little more liquid than usual....

My dinner rolls are made with wholewheat flour only....

Hope this helps...if not you know who to ask...:-)...Good Luck....

myspicykitchen said...

hi amu,
check out my foccacia....

a doubt, how long did you let the dough rest after making a loaf, before putting it in the oven. The first time it doubled in size, but the second time, i.e before putting it in the oven, your loaf looks big. Mine doesn't. So wondering If i should have let it raise for a longer time. I waited for 15 minutes for it to increase.

Amu... said...

@Usha...
The second time it requires lesser time than the first time...but it is definitely more than 15 minutes...It takes on an average abt 1/2 hr....maybe more in some cases...depends on the climatic conditions like humidity...heat etc...so thats all i guess...

But your Foccacia looks great and you call me young has flattered me more...I wish i was Young..:-D
Thank You...