Posts Tagged bread

Achievement Unlocked: Too-Many-Flavors Focaccia

After another late night when I stumbled in the door exhausted at one pm (long and not-bloggable story), the logical thing to do would be to take a nap.  Not me.  Being a chronic insomniac and a fidgeter, I lay down for about half an hour before deciding to go make bread.

Focaccia was my introduction to breadmaking and is still one of my favorite easy snack foods.  I go “rustic” with my loaves, preferring to eat them in randomly hacked wedges rather than doing something so fancy as making a sandwich with them.  A few herbs and spices, some olive oil, and boom.  With a vegetable and perhaps a bratwurst on the side, you’ve got dinner!

I’d been having issues getting my bread to rise the last several times I made it, though.  A combination of cold kitchen, not-warm-enough water, and general lousy bread karma actually resulted in my throwing away at least two batches.  Quelle horreur, I know!  This time, I engineered a solution that won’t work for everybody, but one that I’ll have to remember.  I made some pasta, removed it from the pot by means of tongs, and balanced my bowl on top of the pot of still-steaming water!  (With the weird size of my bowl, it was actually floating *on* the water.)  Not widely replicable, but perfectly functional, and for once, I have a loaf of focaccia rather than a lump.  😀

Also, flavorings.  You can’t really go wrong with this bread.  I tend to throw in whatever looks tasty at the time, resulting in some rather odd mouth combinations…like this one.  Quite the recommendation I’m leaving you with, isn’t it?  😛

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Basic Focaccia

  1. In small bowl or mug, mix one-third cup of water with a teaspoon of sugar and one packet of RapidRise yeast.  Stir until sugar is dissolved, and let foam for ten minutes or so.  Drink some tea.
  2. In larger bowl, place two cups of flour and your flavorings of choice.  If you’re me, scrounge around and add some dill, a shake of garlic powder, and a little bit of juice squeezed from a tomato.  The last really didn’t add anything to the flavor, so unless you’ve got a tomato around, skip it.  Eat the rest of the squeezed tomato.
  3. Add yeast mixture to flour and stir until shaggy-looking, then mostly doughy.  Add a couple more tablespoons of water until dough combines.  Knead or punch around for a minute or so, then remove from bowl, splash olive oil into bowl, replace bread dough and turn to coat.
  4. Let dough rise until doubled, about half an hour in ideal circumstances.  Eat pasta from pot over which dough is rising.
  5. Preheat oven to 450.
  6. When risen, remove dough from bowl/pot and smack around for a minute until fully cowed.  Grease baking sheet (cooking spray!) and plop dough on top.  Arrange dough into flat circle-like thing that looks sliceable.
  7. Poke holes in top of focaccia with handle end of wooden spoon, for authenticity.  Top with either salt or, if you’re me, lemon pepper.  It smells delicious, but the combination of spices may be just a leetle too much for less flavor-attention-deficit folks.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes or until kinda crunchy around the edges and mostly golden.  Panic eight minutes in and realize your oven is overheated; turn down to 350 for two minutes, then remove.  Eat.  Remember to offer to share.  🙂
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Achievement Unlocked: Pita-Esque Flatbread

Homemade pita.  Ambitious, but who am I to shy from ambition?  I’d be a poor blogger indeed if I didn’t share something new with you all, whether or not it’s a success.  (The picnic got rained out, but we just moved it inside and saved the trouble of schlepping around a basket.)

The key to getting the pita just right is figuring out how to make them puff.  Smitten Kitchen saved the day once again with a handy little tip: it’s all about the moisture.  She spritzes her pita with a spray bottle two or three minutes before cooking each one on a hot cast-iron skillet or baking stone.  Learning from the best, I scrounged up my roommate’s spray bottle and got to work…except it really didn’t work for me.  They bubbled, sure, but they never got that balloon-like puff I was looking for.  Lacking both time and a particularly picky audience, I left the batch as-is and merely served my falafel with tasty flatbread.  Someday, I’ll make this again and figure out what I did wrong.  For now, I’ve got a picnic to cater.  🙂

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Homemade Pita (makes 12)

  1. Start these the day or night before you’re planning to serve them.  Mix three cups flour, two teaspoons salt, two teaspoons olive oil, and a packet of rapid-rise yeast (or two teaspoons of instant).  Add one-and-a-quarter cups water, and stir and squish the mixture until it forms a soft dough lump.
  2. Turn the dough out onto your kneading surface (again, marble baking board for the win!) and knead for, oh, five minutes or so.  I pay very little attention to the kneading times given in recipes.  When the dough is smooth, the dough is smooth.
  3. Let sticky dough rise, under the overturned bowl, for twenty minutes or so.
  4. Knead some more, then plunk into oiled bowl and press down.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate.
  5. Every couple of hours, check the pita.  Punch the dough down (gently) the first two times, then let it rise.
  6. (Mess up your evening’s proceedings briefly by having used the wrong bowl.  Leave the pita where it is and go do dishes.)
  7. The next morning: remove your lovely pita lump from the fridge.  Divide it into twelve pieces and roll each piece into a ball.  Flatten each ball and leave them on your baking board to rest for twenty minutes or so.  Go have some tea.
  8. Grease your cast-iron skillet and heat it to medium (6, on a gas stove).  Fill a spray bottle with water.
  9. Roll out your pitas nice and thin, and relatively round, and spritz them with water.  Let the water soak in for two or three minutes.
  10. Cook your pitas in the skillet.  They should first start to bubble, then lift around the edges.  Flip ’em around a bit so one side is flat and slightly browned and the other side is bubbly and cooked.
  11. Slide your pita-flatbread-things onto a plate, cover with a towel, and serve with falafel and tabbouleh.  🙂

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