I’m usually pretty fearless in the kitchen. I like trying new recipes and techniques, even when we have friends over. But there are a couple things that scare me. Making homemade caramel is my worst nightmare. I’ve tried to make it a couple times and without fail, burn it every time. Baking with yeast also used to scare me. I never had any bad experiences with it but I had heard numerous disaster stories about working with yeast. Over the past couple months, I’ve overcome this fear. I’ve made three items with yeast as a key ingredient and all were successes: soft pretzel bites, this herbed tomato focaccia bread, and dinner rolls.
I loved this focaccia bread. I followed the recipe below, complete with caramelized onions, herbs, and tomatoes. However, you could easily omit the onions and/or tomatoes, substitute them with something else, or switch out the rosemary for your favorite herb. It took quite a while – several hours, including inactive time for the dough to rise – but it was a fantastic side to some veggie lasagna.
Source: I’ve had this recipe for a while. It was torn out of one of the booklets that came with my Kitchen Aid mixer. I scoured the Internet to see if this recipe was posted to their website, but had no luck finding it.
Herbed Tomato Focaccia Bread
Makes 12 servings
- 1 c. warm water (105-115F)
- 1 envelope (2 1/2 tsp.) active dry yeast
- 9 Tbs. olive oil, divided
- 5 c. all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. salt
- 4 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary and/or thyme, divided
- 1 c. milk
- 2 medium yellow onions
- 1/2 tsp. oregano
- 1 c. canned plum tomatoes drained, seeded, and chopped)
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- In a small bowl, combine water, yeast, and 3 Tbs. olive oil. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix flour, 2 tsp. salt, and 2 Tbs. herbs on low speed, just to toss together. With the mixer still running, add yeast mixture and milk, beating for 1 minute. Scrape down side of bowl, and beat a few more seconds to ensure everything’s fully incorporated.
- Remove bowl from mixer and cover with plastic wrap. Set in a warm spot and allow it to rise until the dough has doubled in bulk, 1-2 hours. (I set the bowl near an oven/stove that is turned on. I know others that have let the dough rise over a heating vent or in a laundry room with the dryer running. If it’s not warm, the dough won’t rise, or at least not as quickly.)
- Oil a large rimmed baking sheet with 1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil. Turn dough out onto pan and stretch to fill the pan completely. Allow dough to rise another hour, until it doubles in size again.
- When dough has just about doubled in size, preheat oven to 450F and prepare the onions. Slice onions thinly and saute in 3 Tbs. olive oil until they begin to color. Season with salt, pepper and oregano. Set aside and allow to cool. If the plum tomatoes aren’t chopped, do that now as well.
- With your fingertips, “dimple” the surface of the dough creating little dips every 2 inches. Scatter onions, tomatoes, and fresh herbs evenly over the surface of the dough. Drizzle with 1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil and kosher salt.
- Bake for 15 minutes. Use a spatula to check bottom for browning (if getting too dark , slide another baking sheet under it to insulate the bottom and slow browning). Return to oven and bake another 10 minutes, until golden brown (about 25 minutes total).
- If serving immediately, transfer directly to a cutting board. Otherwise, allow to cool on a wire rack.
Number of servings (yield): 12