So, I was just home for Thanksgiving break. If Thanksgiving was any indication of what Christmas will be like, a baking whirlwind may end up annihilating my parents' kitchen. I baked four different kinds of loaves this past week, and I'd like to highlight here what I believe to be my greatest success.
When I heard that some special guests would be coming over for dinner on the night before thanksgiving, I poked around the kitchen to see what equally special ingredients I could pull up. We have an enormous rosemary plant on our back porch, as well as a truly gargantuan sage bush out front. I couldn't use the sage because my mother recently used a highly toxic fertilizer to stop an aphid problem, but the rosemary was mine for the taking. So, I grabbed a bottle of white wine, some olive oil, and two eight-inch stalks of rosemary in order to make this bread.
This particular recipe calls for a fairly standard dough at first: two teaspoons of yeast are added to 1/2 cup water, which is put into a well in 3 1/2 cups flour to sponge for 20 minutes. After the sponge is risen and frothy, add 1/3 cup white wine, 1/3 cup olive oil, and a generous handful of fresh rosemary to the well and incorporate the remaining flour until all is part of the dough. Knead for ten minutes, and place in an oiled bowl to rise for an hour.
Once the dough has risen, divide it in two, and chafe each part for about five minutes (to chafe, cup your hands around the dough and spin it briskly but gently in one direction so that the dough becomes a ball). After chafing, roll each piece of dough out into a round approximately ten inches in circumfrence and half an inch thick.
Put the first round on a lightly oiled baking sheet or baking stone. Cover this round with mozarella, gorgonzola, fresh basil, roasted peppers, or whatever other delicious treats your kitchen provides.
Put the second round on top of the first, and lightly pinch around the dough to create a seal. This step is important; I was slightly sloppy in one spot and had a pretty serious cheese detonation in the oven.
Bake that business for about 45 minutes. I put an ice tray in the oven and squirt the walls with water in order to get a crispy crust. I really like the crust that olive oil-enriched bread gets; it's light and flaky, like a butter crust, but vegan and lactose intolerant-friendly. The olive oil is probably way healthier than butter, anyway.
Once the focaccia was finished, we divvied it up and had a feast.