Thursday, January 7, 2010

Baking Bread - Rosemary and Olive Oil Focaccia

We rang in the New Year with family and lots of laughter, and of course, food!

We traveled to spend time with Grandpa Joe and Connie in Bullhead City, AZ. As a gift, we brought champagne, which, incidentally, we did not open at New Year's, and two loaves of bread, a sourdough loaf and the focaccia.

The focaccia recipe came from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day, by Jeff Hertzber and Zoe Francois, a book I received as a Christmas gift. Check out their blog (it's also one I follow). The recipe in the book calls for onions, which I omitted because we are not fans of onion and never have them in the house . . . except after Nana has visited.

Funny side story - after our daughter's graduation, Nana left one yellow onion, and after Nana's Thanksgiving visit, she left one red onion. The yellow onion sat on our counter for months, unused and ignored, until it started to sprout. The same happened with the red onion, except it was only about one month before it actually started to sprout. Both have now been planted in our backyard. That's how we like onions!

Anyways, back to the focaccia. I received the book as a Christmas gift (from my most awesome hubby - thank you, Love!), and absolutely could not wait to try something. We have rosemary in our garden, and I had all other ingredients on hand for this recipe, in addition to not having to buy special equipment, like a pizza peel or baking stone for the oven.

Their method is so easy, and almost foolproof. I say almost because, well, focaccia is a flatbread, so it's supposed to be flat, and as you can see, mine definitely were not flat. Maybe I am too critical; they were flatter than my other loaves. Everyone enjoyed the focaccia, even me! So, it could not have been bad that they were not flat.

I only made half a batch because I didn't think my bowls were big enough to handle the rise for the full recipe, and ended up baking two loaves with the entire dough batch. Had I thought about it more instead of being so ultra-excited to bake, I could have made the full recipe and split it into two containers. The dough would have aged in the refrigerator while we took our trip, and been even more yummy when we returned. Ah, the adventures of a beginning baker. Well, that is another lesson learned!

That night, we had one focaccia loaf with out Spicy Mac-n-Cheese dinner (the hubby's take on Macaroni Grill's Penne Rustica). It was so delicious - the dinner AND the bread! I was very excited to share this with Grandpa Joe and Connie. At Connie's, she served it with a spaghetti dinner the first night of the New Year. It was a nice addition to the meal.

What a way to ring in the New Year! Surrounded by family, sharing good food, wine and lots and lots of laughter, I felt optimistic about 2010. Happy New Year, everyone!

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