I’m talking about tomato olive focaccia bread today. And it’s become my absolute favorite go-to bread! But I’m embarrassed. You see, while I’ve gained some really great culinary skills so far, I’ve also missed out on some pretty fundamental ones. When my dear mother was first teaching me to make bread, she taught me how to knead dough. But I didn’t like it. So I didn’t listen very much. And I committed one of the greatest bread making sins ever.
Embarrassingly, I never kneaded my bread.
But don’t stone me just yet! Because during this most illustrious recipe, I have finally learned the virtue of kneading! And, shockingly, I actually kind of like it! But more on that later. For now, back to the focaccia.
This is good bread, folks. Honestly. Seriously. This is the first bread that I’ve ever made where one bite was enough to make me emit a bear-like groan of satisfaction and declare, in a loud voice and without reservations, that this focaccia was, in fact, BREAD! Because when I tasted it, that’s all that I could think. This is BREAD! The kind of bread that I imagine heroes eating after banging out a slew of European fairy tales, the kind of bread that I imagine the American pioneers eating, the kind of bread that I’ve always imagined in my head.
And it just now occurs to me that ALL of my bread might have been this way if I had just taken the 5-10 minutes needed to knead! Oh, dear.
Funny how cooking is always a parallel to life. Kneading is such a simple technique that leads to such wonderful things. And it’s through the small and simple things of our lives that we get lead to amazing and powerful things. I know that if I just committed to doing a few small and simple things that I’d drastically improve my life in a matter of months.
And speaking of simple (but not always small) things, I need to clean! Ugh. If there’s one thing that I can’t stand, it’s cleaning. But what’s a cook to do? Cleaning needs done. And with that, I bid you adieu. Enjoy and come back next time!
- 3 cups flour
- ½ cup semolina (I sometimes like to use cornmeal, too)
- 1.5 cups very warm, but not quite hot, water
- 2 tsp yeast
- 2 tsp salt
- 3 or 4 sprigs rosemary, stemmed (you can also use 1 Tbsp dried rosemary, less if you aren't such a fan of rosemary)
- 5 oz. sun-dried tomatoes
- Mix flour, semolina, yeast and salt
- Combine flour mixture with water and, when possible, begin kneading
- Knead until you can stretch the bread easily without it breaking
- Let rise, covered, for 40 minutes to an hour
- Bake at 400 for roughly 30 minutes. You may need slightly more or less time depending upon your altitude, humidity, etc. etc.
Valerie Murphy says
The scissors! Were they your Grandma’s? I remember them growing up, chipped paint and all. I think both my Mom & Grandma had the exact same pair! And the recipe looks really good, too! (Sorry! Blast from the past!)
They were my Grandma’s, yes!