I wanted to share with you one of my ways for making life simpler in a Preservative-Free kitchen. As you know, I make foods totally from scratch whenever I can. One of the ways I save myself time and effort is to find a recipe I love that can be made in “master batches” and then turned into various kinds of foods.
One of those recipes is something I shared with my friend Nancy today who was looking for a quick fix for baked goods. Focaccia is a flat, oven-baked Italian bread product similar in style and texture to pizza dough. It works really well with many applications because it is not meant to rise high like regular bread dough.
I will first list the BASIC Focaccia Bread recipe, then I will list the many variations that I use this dough for. Because this dough does not have to rise multiple times like regular bread dough, it is great to work with and super easy to make. Even friends who cringe at the thought of “yeast” have successfully made this recipe and loved it!
1 (1/4 ounce) packet OR 1 tablespoon active dry yeast (do not use instant yeast)
1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 dash ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese (grated)
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese (shredded)
- Mix the yeast and water in a small bowl. Let proof for 10 minutes (until bubbles begin to form).
- In large bowl, stir together flour, salt, sugar, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, basil, and black pepper.
- Add the yeast mix and vegetable oil to the dry ingredients and combine.
- When dough has pulled together, turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.
- Lightly oil a large bowl, place dough in bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with damp cloth and let rise in warm place 25 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Punch dough down, place on greased baking sheet. Pat dough into 1/2-inch thick rectangle (doesn’t have to be perfect). Using your knuckle, make indentations in the dough about 1/2-inch apart, then prick dough with fork.
- Brush top with olive oil, then sprinkle with Parmesan and mozzarella cheese.
- Bake for 13-15 minutes until golden brown.
This focaccia bread is so easy and tastes wonderful. It has loads of herbs and seasonings, and is packed with flavor. You can alter the toppings to your liking.
I have made this with dried caramelized onions and sun-dried tomatoes mixed into the dough or dried mushrooms and dried roasted garlic. Change out the herbs and spices and add your own favorites…everything is good with this mix!
It is great to just serve with a nice tomato and/or pasta dish. Nothing fancy about this bread; just break off some hunks for each plate or throw into a bread basket if you want to get REALLY fancy.
Usage Variations of Focaccia Dough
It is wonderful to make sandwiches with too. If you roll it into 2 pans instead of one as per the directions above, you can cut the bread into 4 pieces and stuff them with your sandwich food just like pita bread.
Focaccia Pizza Dough
I also use this instead of pizza dough. Spread it on the pan, smear a bit of pesto sauce or garlic butter on it and add your pizza toppings. I find it does a really nice job when making deep dish pizzas and holds up better for me than pizza dough.
As well, it makes great breadsticks. Just spread your dough out in a basic square or rectangle, grab your trusty pizza cutter, and cut out the breadsticks either BEFORE OR AFTER it is baked. I like doing it before baking if I am going to smear on different flavored butters, oils, or sauces (like pesto). If you are just going for one flavor, you can spread it on the dough before baking, bake your bread, and then cut it up with the pizza cutter.
Focaccia Hot Pockets or Calzones
Cut your bread dough into rounds or squares, add your favorite stuffing like sloppy Joes, tuna & cheese melts, fajita mix, or calzone mix and fold over making sure to seal the edges with water or egg wash well. Do not forget to cut a slit in the top of your creation to allow the steam to escape. Use a pizza stone or a cooling rack on a cookie sheet to allow the crust to bake correctly. You will NEVER buy those little convenience store things again!
This dough is freezable. Make up a few batches of dough at a time, roll in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil, and pop it into the freezer.
When ready to thaw, unwrap partially, and set it on the counter. In about 30 minutes you are ready to use your dough!
The items made from this dough are also freezable after baking.
How many more ideas can you come up with to use this dough? Let me hear them!