“If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.”
Robert Browning (1812-1889) English poet
Lately I have been thinking very hard about my future with food. I don’t want to work for someone all my life; so I have dreams of one day having my own small business that will challenge me and at the same time provide me with the satisfaction of bringing something as enjoyable as amazing food to people. Meanwhile, as I start a new job at a restaurant here in Winter Park, Fl next week, I plan to absorb every last bit of knowledge so that I can use it when the time comes for me. All of this inspiration lately has come from baking bread.
Baking bread is a beautiful way of bringing lovely food to the table. It is an art that requires commitment to the detail of scaling your ingredients, persistence when you knead your dough, and patience as you let it rise and do its thing. The most rewarding moment of course, comes when the freshly baked aromas fill the house. Try baking your own bread at least once and you will begin to realize that there is nothing wonderful about the shalky white bread we see at the local grocery stores.
I have a focaccia recipe from my baking textbook, but I decided to add the thyme and the rosemary from my herb garden.
13.5 oz water
.5 oz yeast (dissolved in 1.5 oz water)
24 oz bread flour
.5 oz salt
1 oz olive oil
Rosemary, Thyme, and 1/2 cup grape tomatoes ( cut into halves)
Scale all the ingredients carefully and mix the yeast with 1.5 oz of warm water, allow to rest for 5 minutes in a warm area of the kitchen.
Turn oven on to preheat at 375 °F and oil a large square sheet pan (any size depending on how you like your focaccia)
Mix the salt & flour, then pour into the yeast mixture, add the oil. Mix with a spatula and slowly add the 13.5 oz of water. This is easier done in a mixer by slowly adding a pencil thin stream of water until the dough holds together, however, I love to play with dough and I prefer to knead it with my hands.
As soon as the dough begins to hold together, turn over onto a lightly dusted surface and knead by folding dough with the hands until you reach this firm dough consistency:
Allow to rise for about an hour or until it looks epic, like this:
When its reaches this size, pour dough onto dusted surface and take all edges and bring them to the center to form a ball. Take a rolling pin and roll out the dough to fit the sheet pan that you will be baking in. Brush with additional olive oil and sprinkle fresh herbs, then arrange grape tomato halves on the dough.
Bake until slightly golden.
When the focaccia is baked set it out to cool a bit. This bread has a crusty texture that will tasty amazing with soft goat cheese or grilled veggies. The grape tomatoes will be so juicy that it reminds me of a mini pizza when I eat it all by itself.