January 24, 2014


The "baking-obsessed-cells" in me is all happy & dancing in joy. I am sure 2014 is gonna be an exciting year on the baking front. Starting this year, I am also a part of the one-year old baking group "We Knead to Bake". This group have been successfully baking various kinds of yeasted breads (one bread a month) all through the year 2013. This group is led by Aparna of "My Diverse Kitchen". Being the live-wire of this group, Aparna does all the ground work, comes up with a solid recipe, and shares it with the group. Then, the group has this easy task of following the recipe, bake & enjoy! It is also worth mentioning that the group is a lively crowd & full of baking enthusiasts.

Based on a poll within the group, "Focaccia" was voted to be the first bread for the year 2014. Focaccia is a flat, oven baked Italian bread which is topped with herbs and/or other ingredients. Ofcourse, I got a detailed recipe from Aparna for "Focaccia Caprese", but I decided to skip the caprese part and settle down for a simple focaccia with just cherry tomatoes on top.

When you make focaccia, the first obvious question that comes to your mind, "what's the difference between pizza & focaccia?". Well, the answer is two folded, one - toppings & two - thickness. Pizza is covered with a mix of vegetables & cheese on top, whereas focaccia usually has one topping mixed with herbs. Focaccia has a thicker crust compared to pizza which is mainly due to the amount of leavening (yeast) being used.. which means, pizza uses lesser leavening agent compared to focaccia.

That being said, some of the characteristic features of focaccia are: softer texture, smells & tastes herby, and uses large amounts of olive oil.

So, here's to an year long learning, baking & tasting of delicious breads!!

Basic Info
Complexity - Medium
Prep time - 1.5 hrs (includes resting time)
Cook time - 20-25 mins
Serves - 15x10 bread of about an inch thick.

Originally adapted from "The Kitchen Whisperer"

For the Dough
2 tsp instant yeast
1.5 tbsp sugar
3.5 cups bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 to 1.5 cups warm water (may be a little more)
A little more olive oil for brushing dough

For the Topping
10 cherry tomatoes, cut into half

For the Herbed Oil
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tsp dried Italian herb seasonings
1/4 to 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Salt to taste

Herbed Oil
Whisk all the ingredients in a bowl until well combined. Set it aside until required.

Take yeast, sugar, flour, salt and 1/4 cup of herbed oil in a mixing bowl. Add 1 cup of warm water (and as much more as you need) and knead until you have a soft elastic dough. The dough can be mixed & kneaded by hand (or) machine. I did the mixing & kneading part by hand and I kneaded for about 8-10 mins.

Transfer the dough into a well oiled bowl turning the dough around so it is coated. Cover and let it rise in a warm place until almost double in volume. This should take about an hour.

Grease a 15x10 pan with little olive oil. Put the dough onto the greased pan and press it evenly to fit the size of the pan. Continue to stretch the dough to fit the pan until its evenly thick throughout. Let it rise for 20-30 mins.

Preheat oven to 500 deg F.

Evenly space & press cherry tomatoes with the cut side down on the dough. Take care not to punch down the dough. Gently brush the surface with 1/8 cup of herbed oil.

Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and after a min or two bring down the temp to 450 deg F. The first few mins of highly heated oven helps in that extra rise to the bread. Bake for about 10-15 mins (or) until it is slightly browned.

Remove focaccia from the oven, brush it with rest of the herbed oil and bake again for 5-10 mins (or) until the top is brown & crispy.

Serve & enjoy!

This recipe is being "Yeast-spotted"!!