Focaccia is a flat oven-baked Italian bread that is soft in texture. Bakers often add indentions to the top of the dough to relieve bubbling on the surface of the bread.
Focaccia is beautiful and rustic. It's the perfect thing casually shared among friends and family to nibble on during dinner or as an appetizer with good olive oil for dipping. If blue cheese isn't your thing simply substitute for parmesan like the original recipe calls for or even feta or goat cheese.
A friend of mine shared this recipe with me a few years ago after she assured me how simple it was to make and I have been making it since. If you've been wanting to try your hand at making bread but still not there yet, focaccia is a great way to start. It's really very easy and only takes about an hour for the dough to rise. I am finding myself being drawn to the kitchen more and more to sink my hands into fresh yeasty dough. For me it's therapeutic and the reward at the end makes it all worth it. You simply can't beat the taste of freshly baked bread straight out of the oven. Add to that good company and a glass of wine to equal my idea of a perfect night.
Next time I make this I am going to add more toppings (maybe sliced pears, spinach, and onions) and make it a main course dinner to serve alongside a simple green salad for a different spin on our homemade pizza night. Just typing that has me thinking that "next time"is going to come much sooner than later. Like possibly this weekend? Or tonight?
This recipe yields two good-sized loaves. It freezes well so wrap the other one up to pull out at a later time.
Focaccia with Blue Cheese Crumbles
3 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour (Do not use self-rising)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves or 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 package regular or quick active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup very warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
Mix 1 cup of the flour, rosemary, sugar, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Add 3 tablespoons oil and the warm water. Beat with an electric mixer for about 3 minutes. Stir in the remaining flour until dough is soft and leaves the sides of the bowl.
Place dough on a lightly floured surface. Knead 5 to 8 minutes or until dough is smooth and springy.
Place dough in large greased bowl, turning the dough to grease all sides. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let it rise about 30 minutes or until almost double. Dough is ready if indention remains when touched.
Grease two cookie sheets or 12-inch pizza pans with a small amount of oil.
Gently push fist into dough to deflate. Divide dough in half. Shape each half into a flattened 10-inch round on cookie sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rise about 30 more minutes or until double.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Gently make depressions about 2 inches apart in dough with fingers. Carefully brush with two tablespoons oil; Sprinkle the crumbled blue cheese over top of dough. Bake 15 to 20 minutes.
Serve warm or cool.
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