A few friends and I used to have a cooking club. We would meet about once a month and spend the good part of a day making our favorite recipes. I really enjoyed it, but we all got busier and the club disbanded. This focaccia bread recipe is the one shared recipe I still make regularly. Since it makes so much, I cut up the leftovers into large squares, wrap each piece in plastic wrap and foil, and then put the pieces in a ziploc bag to store in the freezer. Then I can pull out one large square, heat it up in a 400 F oven, cut it into serving sizes, and eat it hot with a meal. This bread really tastes best hot and crispy.
This time was my first to make focaccia with fresh herbs. If you don't have them on hand, go ahead and use dried as both work fine.
Focaccia alle Erbe
from Ingrid T
2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1/2 c. warm water (105-115 F)
1 1/2 c. milk
6 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
5 c. (1 1/2 lb) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary or 1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. chopped fresh sage or 1/4 tsp. dried sage
coarse salt to taste
In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let stand until creamy, about 5 minutes. Stir until dissolved. Add the milk and 4 tablespoons of the olive oil and stir to combine.
In a large bowl, using a wood spoon, stir together the flour, salt, thyme, rosemary, and sage. Add the yeast mixture and stir until a soft dough forms, about 2 minutes. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Shape it into a ball.
Oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn it once to coat the top. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Oil a 15x10x1-inch jelly-roll pan. Punch down the dough, transfer to the prepared pan, and flatten it out with your hands to cover the bottom completely. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise again in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Preheat an oven to 450 F.
Using your fingertips, press down firmly into the dough to make dimples about 1 inch apart and 1 inch deep. Drizzle the entire surface with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with the coarse salt.
Bake until golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Slide the focaccia onto a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into squares to serve.