Sunday, October 4, 2009

Olive & Herb Focaccia

People who know me well tell me that I'm dramatic. That's a nice way of saying that I can get worked up over just about anything. I don't just like things, I adore! them. If something isn't quite right, I despise! it. The nuns tried to beat the crazy out of me for many years, but (partly just to spite them) I have learned to embrace the fact that I am a bit of a spaz.

I have found ways to harness and temper my spazziness - yoga, boxing, and cooking are all good outlets for my obsessive compulsive tendencies. But I was never really drawn to baking.  For one thing,  I'm just not into making sweets. On the savory side of things, even though I love fresh baked breads, the whole notion of working with dough seemed incredibly intimidating. I think the degree of necessary precision is what made me so wary. It just didn't seem like someone with my level of nervous energy and lack of patience would take to it. In other words, I was certain I would make a huge mess.Well, I stand corrected.  From my very first attempt - a savory tart crust - I immediately fell madly in love with it. Once I moved on to making a pizza crust, I was hooked. The smells, the textures, the feel of it on my hands  ... it turns out that working with dough makes my scattered brain slow down and zone out. 

And if tarts and piza crusts are relaxing, this focaccia was downright meditative. I started with focaccia because the general consensus is that's it's sort of a foolproof bread. It certainly was for this fool! I followed a recipe from the Paupered Chef, and it worked like a charm. I did have to adjust the flour amount and rising time, but it's pretty normal for things like that to vary a bit.  I also used a bit more garlic on the topping - but that's my personal preference.  

Olive & Herb Focaccia
4 cups organic all purpose nonbleached white flour (I used King Arthur). 
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp yeast
13.5 ounces 100- 110 degree water
a handful of black oil cured olives, roughly chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
small handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
leaves from 4-5 sprigs of thyme
sprinkle of kosher salt

Combine flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl.  Mix the ingredients well
Next, add water and mix with your hands. Have some extra flour standing by - you want the dough to be a little sticky, but no so sticky that it's adhering in big chunks to your hands. Whatever sticks to your fingers should be easy to get off, so if the dough is too wet slowly add more flour until it's right. 
Knead the dough on a floured surface - adding more flour as necessary -  for about 5 minutes until it's a neat, slightly sticky ball that doesn't want to adhere to your hands.
Place it back in the floured bowl, cover with a dishtowel and leave in a warm place to rise for about  30 minutes to an hour, until it's doubled in size. 
Oil a round or rectangular baking pan and scatter some cornmeal in the bottom. 
Plop your dough in the middle (it will deflate, not a problem) and spread it out in the pan. It doesn't have to go the whole way to the edge, but it should be an even thickness. Mine wasn't precisely even, and I think one side of my bread ended up a tiny bit higher than the other.
Cover again, and let rise for one hour. (The original recipe says 30 minutes, but my dough had barely risen in this time. One hour did the trick!) 

With a floured finger, poke little holes in the top of your loaf:
Next, combine the olive oil, garlic, parsely, olives and thyme and gently spoon on top of your focaccia. 

Sprinkle some kosher salt on top and pop that baby in a 425 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Get the bread out of the baking pan, and make sure to have a piece while it's still warm and fragrant with yeast.  I had some with my creamy potato and leek soup

Focaccia With Olives & Thyme on Foodista


  1. Really! You don't know how much I connect with the "adoring/despising" issue... I am that way too... by the way, lovely looking focaccia ;-)

  2. What a great recipe and I know just what you mean, I'm a savoury kind a gal too! Oh and dramatic lol

  3. hey there,i love your focaccia!beautiful!i made a stuffed focaccia here:

  4. As a fellow "spaz" I agree that baking is very relaxing-- it forces me to slow down! Focaccia has been on my list of things to try so I will bookmark this post for sure--

  5. I can almost smell freshly made focaccis from here! I am such a fan and used to make this almost once every month. These days I just get it from the shop. Time poor :(

  6. Oh that bread looks great - I'm definitely saving the recipe!

  7. Great job! I could go for some right about now. It looks wonderful.

  8. perfect bread!
    i enjoy being with people who can let me know clearly either they adore or despise things. really hv no time to guess people!

  9. I was wondering when you were gonna post it! beautiful focaccia. Looks perfect.

  10. Looks lovely. I am inspired - now I need to make a gluten-free version! I love focaccia.

  11. That's a beautiful foccacia bread. Baking could be intimidating sometimes. I'm still intimidated whenever I try something new. Time to bake some bread again.

  12. This is new to me. Looks great!
    You have some awards waiting in my blog that I like to share.

  13. From a very newbie baker, thanks so much to everyone for the encouraging words!!!!!

  14. oh my that is one good looking focaccia!

  15. how funny, i just made some rosemary focaccia... and now it's all gone because we ate every bit of it.

  16. Lovely focaccia! Great with herbes!

  17. Its looking so perfect. Lovely...

  18. This sounds fabulous! I love the olives on top.