Friday, March 11, 2011

Kalamata Olive and Feta Focaccia Bread

I must say that Focaccia bread, the Italian herb flatbread, is one of my favorite breads of all time. There are three reasons why I think this way: one reason is because it is so simple and easy to make. Second is it is so versatile, it can be served with soups, made into croutons, turned into sandwiches or just simply served on its own. And third, it is packed and I mean packed, with flavor. Flavors really depend on taste but my two favorites are olive and feta or sun-dried tomato with garlic. It is really up to your own preference in flavors. Jalapenos are great too, or rosemary and garlic; the classic.
I used my trusty stand mixer to make my life a lot easier but if you don't have one, your life will be a litt harder because you'll  need muscle to knead.

This recipe produces one tender, fluffy and flavor-orgasmic Olive and Feta Focaccia.

1 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast or a package
1 tsp sugar
3 ½ cup flour
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, sliced
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
2 tsp kosher salt dissolved in 1/4 cup water
2/3 cup olive oil
12 extra Kalamata olives, halved 
5 tbsp or more olive oil for brushing
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1-2 tsp ground black pepper

Place yeast, sugar and warm water in a stand mixer bowl or a large bowl and let proof for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, add the flour gradually while mixing on low speed with a dough hook (or with your hands). Continue mixing until all flour is used up (it will seem very dry). Add in the olives, cheese, salt water and olive oil. Increase speed to 2 and let knead for 10 minutes (continue to mix with hands in the bowl until a ball forms then move to a lightly dusted surface and knead for 10 minutes until elastic and no longer sticky). Form the dough into a ball. Grease a large bowl with 1 tbsp olive oil, slide ball in and move around to grease the whole ball. Cover with a  kitchen towel, place in a warm area and let rise for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Grease shallow baking sheet or pizza pan with olive oil, and place ball in the tray. Press down on the ball and stretch to fit the pan (does not have to be perfect). Cover again and let rest for 15-30 minutes in a warm place. 
Preheat oven to 345 F.
Press halved olives on top and brush the entire bread with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper.
Bake for 25-35 minutes until Focaccia is golden brown.
Cool on a cooling rack and serve warm.


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