Simple Focaccia Bread

Cooking on a budget does not mean your food has to be boring. Therefore, when I contemplated making chicken Parmesan for dinner, I wanted a complimentary bread that was not just some dinner roll afterthought.

Welcome to the scene, focaccia.

Focaccia is typically an herb-infused Italian bread, and pairs well with soups, salads and pasta. The main bonus for me is that focaccia calls for simple ingredients that I already have, and can be easily tailored to suit individual tastes.

Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon white sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

1 cup water

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 egg

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

Instructions:

Soft and sticky dough mixed during the focaccia step-by-step process. Although its cousin, pizza, can stand in for a meal, focaccia is more of a snack, or at most an appetizer. In Italy, it’s a popular walking-around food. Also, though cold pizza may have a certain raffish charm, focaccia really needs to be eaten when it’s hot to be at its best. (Glenn Koenig/Los Angeles Times/MCT)Grab a medium-sized mixing bowl, and add 1 cup of your all-purpose flour into the bowl. Then

add the Italian seasoning (or if you aren’t as lazy as me, add one teaspoon of: thyme, rosemary and oregano), garlic powder, sugar, and yeast. Mix ingredients together until well blended. In a small pot, bring your water and vegetable oil to a simmer. This part is key, as the yeast will 

need the liquids warmed to activate, so don’t just skip it and throw them in cold. Add the warmed mixture to your flour mix, and then add the egg. While beating your mixture together (either with a hand mixer or just a fork) add in 1 ¾ cups of flour. Once that is all mixed in, you’re ready to move on.

Placing the pan on the stone in the oven during the focaccia step-by-step process. Although its cousin, pizza, can stand in for a meal, focaccia is more of a snack, or at most an appetizer. In Italy, it’s a popular walking-around food. Also, though cold pizza may have a certain raffish charm, focaccia really needs to be eaten when it’s hot to be at its best. (Glenn Koenig/Los Angeles Times/MCT)Lightly dust some counter space (or if you live in a tiny apartment like me, your table works too) with flour and plop your dough down on the dusted space. Add ¾ cup of flour right onto your dough and work it into it. Try not to over-work your dough, it makes it harder when you roll it out. Grab a pizza or cookie sheet, and give it a light coating of grease. I like to use a cooking spray, but anything (like butter, margarine or lard) to keep it from sticking works fine. Then pop your dough onto the pan and roll it out. After the dough is rolled, put a sheet of lightly greased plastic over the top, and then cover it with a cloth. Place your tray in a room temperature spot for 30 minutes. About 10 minutes before you uncover your dough, turn on your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Nooks and crannies add oomph to our favorite foods life focaccia from Genoa. (Glenn Koenig/Los Angeles Times/MCT)Once the 30 minutes is up, uncover your dough and poke some holes in it. You don’t need to go all the way through your dough, but be firm. I have long nails, so I just used the end of a basting brush, but you do you. After the holes are done, drizzle the olive oil over your bread baby and put it into the oven.

Bake for between 24-27 minutes. Your bread should get a golden brown hue to it. Let cool for about 5 minutes, and then slice up your delicious focaccia bread up and serve while still warm.

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