It’s taken a while but this week I finally feel like I have a balance for my new work-life schedule. Spending three days a week at a desk and two evenings a week sailing makes me feel like all the time in between is taken up by meal prep and dishes. Oh, and working out goes in there somewhere almost every day too. Never mind that Lee works about three times as much as I do, takes a class that the community college, and has a gazillian side projects going at home.
Partly due to our busy schedules, Lee and I haven’t done anything too ambitious on the weekends recently. We’ve worked on projects around the house, visited family in Napa, and ventured North for a hike with Doc.
This week my days off seemed much more productive than normal. Today I feel like an absolute superwoman. Do you know why? I baked bread. True, bread baking used to be a weekly occurrence in my household. I’ve hardly opened my oven (except to roast vegetables) since we got back from Curacao, though, so I’ve been lagging in the bread department.
This totally makes up for it. The Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day technique was made for busy schedules like mine. The timetable for this focaccia looked something like this.
- Yesterday, mid-day: mix dough and leave on counter to rise; go to the store and to pick up the CSA box
- Afternoon: put dough in the fridge along with more vegetables than I can count
- This morning: think about bread and look at cookbook; take Doc for a walk
- Later this morning: take dough out of fridge and pull off a hunk; flatten it out, top with toppings, and let it sit while the oven preheats
- Just before lunch: put bread in the oven; talk to Mom on Skype while it bakes
- Noon today: bread comes out of the oven; inhale deeply
There you have it. Technically this focaccia was about 24 hours in the making. I only put a few minutes a day of work into it, though, and I got a lot done in the intervening hours. The best part is that there’s still a bucket of dough in the fridge!
This recipe has been brewing in my mind for a while now. I saw this post from Cake Duchess the other day and immediately wanted to join in on the Bread Baking Society‘s fun. I don’t think I’ve ever set out to make focaccia before, although I’ve certainly made many-a-flat bread that resembled this traditional Italian loaf.
I love the toppings I chose and I love to think about where the inspiration for them came from. The giant rosemary sprig happily living in a jar of water in my fridge came from last week’s Mariquita Farm box. I’ve had pine nuts on the brain ever since reading a book on Native California Indian cooking I bought at work (it’s dangerous to work at a museum with such an awesome gift store!).
The rosemary, pine nuts, and honey are delicious but so are many other things you could sprinkle on top of your focaccia. Let you mind wander and see what you come up with. I made a whole wheat crust because that’s what I’m into but here’s a more traditional crust from this month’s #BreakingBread hostess.
- 7 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
- 3 1/2 cups lukewarm water
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- Olive oil
- Mix dry dough ingredients in a large bowl or coverable container.
- Add oil+water and stir until all flour is incorporated.
- Cover dough (not airtight) and leave at room temperature until it rises and collapses (2-3 hours)
- At this point, you can pull off some dough and proceed with your focaccia or place all the dough in the fridge and bake the following day. I like to do the latter because the dough is easier to work with when it's cold.
- Pull off a grapefuit-sized portion of dough using floured hands. Quickly shape it into a ball and place it on a lightly floured board.
- Using your hands or a rolliong pin, roll out the dough into a 1/2-3/4 inch thick oval.
- Coat a cookie sheet with oil, parchment, or a silicon mat and place the dough oval on it.
- Depending on how quickly your oven preheats and whether you're using a baking stone (not necessary when using a cookie sheet but requires half an hour of preheating time) you might want to turn your oven on to 425 degrees F. and place a roasting pan in the bottom now.
- Using the tip of your finger, make indentations all over the top of the focaccia. These will hold oil, honey, and pine nuts!
- Scatter rosemary and pine nuts over the dough. I pressed most of my pine nuts into the top a little.
- Sprinkle on honey and olive oil to taste, using more olive oil than honey.
- If you haven't already, turn on your oven to 425 F. after putting a roasting pan in thet bottom.
- Let the focaccia rest for 20 minutes, then place in the preheated oven, pour boiling water into the roasting pan, and quickly close the oven door. I boil water in the teakettle for this.
- Bake for 18-25 minutes depending on how thick your focaccia is. It's ready when the top is brown from the honey and the oil.
- Cool on a wire rack, slice, and savor.
Dough recipe for 100% Whole Wheat Bread with Olive Oil from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day