January 25, 2006

Play Dough

Olive Oil Focaccia

I used to loathe making bread. All that dough stuck under your fingernails and flour everywhere. However a few weeks ago I was inspired after seeing a recipe in one of my cookbooks for a simple olive oil bread that requires only one hour of rising. I made it and it has changed my life!
Now I'm making pizza and focaccia and stuffed bread and calzone and beautiful, hand shaped loaves. How could I ever have thought that bread dough was so difficult and messy? It only takes 10-12 minutes to mix and knead and then you can just leave it. If there's some unused dough, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and throw it in the fridge overnight. If it rises more than an hour, no harm done. It is the perfect blank canvas for any number of delicious combinations.

Throw on some sliced onion and thyme.
Roll in some feta cheese and sun dried tomatoes.
Stuff it with cooked sausage, ricotta and chopped green onion.
Spread the top with thick tomato and garlic sauce for what my husband calls "tomato pie".
Top it with pesto, goat cheese and toasted pine nuts.
Or simply drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.

Here is my adapted recipe. Enjoy!

1 1/3 cup (325 mls) lukewarm water
1 packet yeast
1/3 (75 mls) cup olive oil
3 to 4 cups (450-600 grams) all-purpose flour
fine sea salt

Whisk together the water and yeast in a large bowl until yeast is dissolved. Whisk in olive oil. Add one cup of the flour and whisk until combined. Now switch to a wooden spoon and stir in a pinch of salt and slowly incorporate enough flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead, using as little extra flour as possible, for about 5 minutes. The dough should look satiny and feel moist but shouldn't stick to clean hands.
Place the dough in a large, clean bowl, cover with a tea towel and let it rise at room temperature until it has doubled in size, at least 1 hour. Punch down the dough, shape into what you need on a cornmeal sprinkled baking sheet and let it rest again while the oven warms up. Top it or fill it and bake in a 400 degree oven. The shape will determine the cooking time but you want it to be a lovely, golden color.
focaccia about 25 minutes
calzone about 25 minutes
loaf about 30-40 minutes

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Kim/Thomas said...

As I have also just started blogging...I know how exciting it is to get a comment!!! Its like wow, someone is reading..I have someone who is actually looking at this:)

I will definately try this bread! It looks easy enough and tasty!

Loulou said...

Thanks Kim and Thomas. Keep me updated!

Betty C. said...

Is this your very first post? I just decided to go take a look in your archives. It looks like you started Chez Loulou just one month after I started La France Profonde! You've certainly been much more diligent, however.


Betty C. said...

Just to sign up for comment follow-up...

Betty C. said...

PS: I wonder what happened to Kim and Thomas. I remember I used to get a lot of comments from them and commented back. Coming back to this old post of yours was kind of like going into a time warp..

Loulou said...

Yes, this was my very first post. Almost 4 years ago!

Not sure what happened to them. There are so many people who blogged and/or commented who have just disappeared. I think if I were going to end the blog I would at least say goodbye or something.