This recipe was given to me by a crew member who had fantastic memories of her mom making it growing up. That mom is Betsy Maislen and has since come sailing with us for many years in the fall as my end of season lifesaver. She’s funny, quick, and a wonderful cook. She still make this recipe at home even though it’s just she and her husband. I’ve adapted it a little to fit my recipe format, but left the rest of it the same as it needs no changing what so ever. Your house is going to smell amazing!
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons butter, plus a little extra for the bread when it comes out of the oven
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons table salt
8 to 15 cardamom seeds, cut hulls, pulverize centers (or 1 teaspoon ground cardamom)
8 cups flour
In a small bowl, combine water, yeast and sugar and let stand for 5 minutes. In a large bowl, combine butter, milk, eggs, second sugar amount, salt and cardamom. Add yeast mix and then flour. Knead well for 10 to 15 minutes by hand or 4 to 6 minutes by machine. Rub the bowl and dough with a little oil and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside to double, about 1 hour. Remove from bowl and shape into 2 loaves. Place into 2 greased bread pans. Let rise another 45 minutes or so to double again. Bake in a 325F° oven for 35 to 45 minutes. Rub with butter when hot. Let rest in pans for 5 minutes and then remove.
Heaven in a pan
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
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.
Email this • Share on Facebook • Twitter • Digg This! • Save to del.icio.us • Stumble It!