Cook the Book – Focaccia

Focaccia

We usually have focaccia at some point during the week on the boat.  I make it with several of the toppings, below, for lunch, or as an accompaniment to an entrée.

1 1/2  tablespoons dry yeast
1 tablespoon salt
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
Cornmeal for dusting

Combine the yeast, salt, and flour in a large bowl. Stir in all the remaining ingredients, reserving 1/4 cup water.  Add more water if needed. Knead for 10-15 minutes. Oil the bowl and the top of the dough, cover, and set aside in a warm, draft free place to rise until doubled (about 1 hour). Preheat oven to 350° and oil two cookie pans. After the first rise divide the dough and place half on each pan.  Work both pieces flat either with your hands or with a rolling pin.  If the dough is fighting you (keeps shrinking back when you stretch it), just let it rest for 5 minutes and continue until it reaches the edge of the cookie pan. Oil the top of the dough and let it rise until doubled.  Press your fingers quickly into the dough all over the surface as if you were playing the piano and then dust with both salt and pepper.  Bake until golden brown (around 35 minutes).

Makes 2 focaccia

Some of my favorite focaccia toppings:

Green Olive Tapenade and Goat Cheese
Ricotta and Prosciutto
Caramelized Onion, Sautéed Green and Red Peppers with Onion
Red Onion, Mushroom and Parmesan Cheese

Stovetop Focaccia

Our good friend Jim Amaral is a baker and owns a fabulous statewide bakery called Borealis Breads.  He uses organic wheat grown by farmers in Aroostook County (“The County” as it’s called, covers most of Northern Maine) and has done more for the quality of bread making in the state than any other business around.  He and his family came sailing with us a few years ago and when he saw my woodstove, his first comment was about how great it would be to bake flat bread on TOP of the stove.  Of course I’m used to cooking stews and the like on top of the stove, but baking bread had never occurred to me.  We tested it out that week in many different ways.  After several tries and the indignity of having smoke billowing from my galley, I now use the stovetop at least once a week, most often to make a basic focaccia.  I clear the pots off of the stove and then clean it.  I don’t oil it because of the aforementioned smoke, but simply throw down a fairly thin piece of dough directly on the stove surface.  I find myself needing to move it frequently as there are many hot spots that will scorch the bread.  Once I’ve flipped the bread over, I oil it and sprinkle it with salt and pepper.  This bread should be served immediately.

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