Monday, March 17, 2008

Cheese and pepper Focaccia bread

We recently tried this focaccia bread recipe on If you're beginner at baking then I'm sure you're about to run away; but let me tell you this is one of the first bread recipes I've ever tried and one of the main reasons for this being the first was its success rate among the reviewers and the short list of ingredients. The recipe is very simple and the result delicious! The most important thing to note in this recipe is that your yeast should be fresh/new. The first time I made this bread, my yeast was very old so then I got new yeast and tried again. Sure enough this time the bread came out perfect. Due to my last debacle, I was quite cautious on my second attempt and reduced the quantity of the ingredients so that in case of a deja vu, I don't waste too much! So here's the recipe with reduced quantity of ingredients, which any beginner would appreciate.

Serves 2-3

1.5 cups all purpose flour
0.5 tsp sugar
0.5 tsp salt
0.5 tbsp yeast
1.5 tsp Italian seasoning (the original recipe called for oregano, thyme and basil but since I'd this seasoning I used it instead)
a pinch of black pepper
0.5 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp olive oil
0.5-0.75 cups water (you'll know as you knead)
0.5 cups Cheese (the original recipe asked for mozarella but since I'd cheddar I used that)
0.5 tsp chopped chillies (optional, any kind is fine we used serrano pepper. I think pickled jalapenos would also be nice)
  1. Mix all the above ingredients except olive oil, water, cheese and chillies.
  2. Knead the flour with water till smooth and elastic. Once the dough has pulled together, add water little by little till the dough becomes soft and smooth.
  3. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat it.
  4. Cover it with a damp cloth and keep in a warm place for 20-30 mins. I'd expected the dough to rise after this step, but it didn't or at least not perceptibly. So I kept it for another 15 mins or so in a warmer place (earlier it was in a switched-off oven), close to my burners where I was cooking. Even after that the dough didn't rise so I'm not sure if one should expect it to rise. However, since my bread came out nice and soft I don't think you need to worry whether it rose after this step or not.
  5. Preheat oven to 450 F.
  6. Punch down the dough and place on a greased baking tray. Pat it into a 0.5 inch rectangle.
  7. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle cheese and chillies over it.
  8. Bake for 15 mins. or until golden brown.
Try it and let me know how it came out!

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