For as long as I can remember, my mother made this bread. She used it for long loaves, foccacia and pizza. I remember coming home from school on Fridays and there was a bowl on the counter with the squishy dough – pizza for dinner!
During the summer, when we were in Westport, there would be a line of kids outside our back door on Saturday morning, waiting for a piece of my mom’s wonderful bread and butter. My mother made foccacia way before foccacia became fashionable.
This is a very versatile dough. As a bread it has a crisp crust and a tender interior, not too airy, sturdy enough to toast or for bruschetta or garlic bread. For pizza, it makes a great thick-ish crust pizza, bold enough in flavor to still be present under sauce and cheese. And for foccacia, it’s an absolute dream, holds the dents, olive oil floats in them, salt and rosemary a perfect addition. Foccacia is supposed to be a very simple thing, olive oil, salt, perhaps rosemary, everything else is just tooooooo much.
This is a really simple recipe. No fuss, no muss. Bloom, soak, add flour, rise, rise, bake! It will make more sense as we go along.
- 1 package yeast
- 1/4 C warm water
- 3/4 C flour
- 2 C warm water
- 3 heaping t salt
- 5 C flour
Dissolve one package of yeast to 1/4 C of warm water. Add 3/4 C of flour and knead to form a ball.
Cut a cross in the ball (not too deep or it will fall apart). Pour 2 C of warm water in a deep narrow bowl, add the ball of dough. Once the ball of dough rises to the top , transfer it to a large bowl. Add 3 heaping teaspoons and 5 cups of flour, one at a time, kneading after each addition. You can use a wooden spoon for the first 3, perhaps 4, the fifth you will need to knead by hand.
Once all the flour is added, knead the dough for a couple of minutes.
Butter a bowl, add the dough, cover with a damp cloth and place in a warm spot to rise.
You want it to double in size.
Once it has doubled, shape into 2 loaves, place on baking sheet, cover and let rise again. Place baking sheet in oven and bake for 30 minutes. I lightly spray the baking sheet first, just in case.
Remove loaves from oven and let cool completely before you cut into it. I know, not easy! I NEVER make it to completely, usually to warm.
Once cooled, slice and enjoy!
Even better with the butter I made!
For foccacia, after the dough has doubled in the bowl, oil a baking sheet, spread the dough out in the baking sheet. Cover and let rise again. After it has risen, press your fingers into the dough to make divots. Sprinkle the top with olive oil and salt. I like to add rosemary, perhaps a little garlic. Bake until golden brown.
For pizza, after the dough has doubled in the bowl, lightly oil a baking sheet, spread the dough out on the baking sheet. Cover and let rise again. After it has risen, add sauce and cheese, and whatever toppings you want. Bake until bottom is browned and cheese has melted.