Here is another easy bread recipe that I think is incredibly romantic — Cheese and Olive Focaccia. Of course focaccia is one of those things with which you can go absolutely wild. Create your own toppings. Do outragious things with it. You can take this focaccia recipe and make it your own. Add it to your repertoire of romantic dinner recipes and make it different every time. Try mushrooms, herbs and a sprinkle of red wine. Try carmelized onions with garlic and sea salt. Try bits of pepperoni with a smear of tomato sauce. Here’s one–try chopped-up sun-dried tomatoes with torn up fresh basil and drizzled with olive oil! Focaccia is an easy bread recipe with which you can wow your guests with your creativity!
The other day, we were having friends over in the afternoon. You have to understand, our apartment is one of those Russian block-style apartments where a gazillion people live in a very small area. I can look out my window and see the homes of literally two thousand people. Anyway, they came in the door downstairs and smelled our focaccia bread baking. You have to go through seven doors to get to our apartment. Imagine. I brought joy (or torture!) to hundreds of people by the aroma of my really easy focaccia recipe. There’s a whole lot of satisfaction in that.
You try it! Make some extra, slice it up and bring it to the neighbors. They’ll join you on TheRomanticWay!
I’ve got really good news. If you have made our Kyrgyz Lapyoshka Flat Bread recipe, this dough is almost identical. The only difference with this easy bread recipe is that you leave out the baking powder. That’s it! I’ll repeat the entire thing here, though, in case you want to cut, paste and print this recipe. After the first raising of the dough though, everything changes. Here goes.
Plan to prepare the dough three to four hours before you want to bake the bread because it’s best hot and fresh.
Preparation time for dough 20-30 minutes
Baking time about 30 minutes for two rounds
Ingredients for Dough:
3 tbsp. Sugar
2 1/4 c. Tepid water (not hot)
2 pkgs. or ½ oz. Fast-acting dry yeast
7 c. All purpose flour
2 tbsp. Salt
Ingredients for Topping:
4 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 tsp. Oregano
Dash of garlic powder
2 c. Shredded soft white cheese
1/3 c. Sliced green or black olives
Put the sugar in a small glass bowl and add about half of the water. Sprinkle the yeast on the surface of the water and do not stir. Allow to set while measuring the rest of the ingredients. The yeast, water and sugar will begin to get a little foamy.
Meanwhile measure the flour and salt into a pile on a large sturdy work surface. Combine the dry ingredients together a little with your finger tips. Don’t worry, it will all get thoroughly mixed later.
Make a hollow in the center of your pile of flour—like the middle of a volcano. Now, give your sugar, water and yeast a quick stir and pour it into the center of your flour volcano. Be careful that it doesn’t get away from you. Now with your finger tips, move it all around until the liquid is pretty much soaked up. Then add the remaining water in the same way.
You should have a messy wad of ingredients that you can get your hands into. Work all remaining flour into the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic. If it’s obviously too dry, make a small indent in the dough and add a couple tablespoons more water and work it in. If it’s too sticky, toss a little flour on the surface and work it in. You can tell when it’s right if you pick it up by one side and it very slowly stretches on its own. It’s right when it feels really nice to work.
Now, the fun part. Here’s where you get your therapy. Kneed the dough for a full five minutes. Fold it. Turn it. Push it. Punch it. Really work it. If you don’t cheat on this part, you’ll have a really nice consistency in your bread.
After your five minutes of fun, form it into a little mound, cut an X in the top with a knife and pop it in an oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel. Let it sit in a warm place for 2-3 hours or until doubled in size.
Heat your oven to about 400 F. When dinner is about 45 minutes away, turn your dough out on your work surface, punch it down and kneed it for a minute. Divide it into four little rounds with a knife and form four mounds. Oil a cookie sheet or large baking tray. Stretch your dough into four little rectangles. It will be about ½ in. thick. Don’t worry about getting them perfect. Just stretch them out however you like. Try to pull the dough all the way to the edges so that you get good sized focaccia.
Cover the dough with your damp towel and let it raise a little bit while you prepare your topping ingredients. It will about double in size again and be maybe 1 1/2 inch thick.
Drizzle the olive oil over the dough. Sprinkle the oregano evenly over it. Spread the shredded cheese and arrange the sliced olives. Now, poke your fingers into the dough a few times, pushing some of the ingredients into it leaving little pockets that are typical of focaccia. It’s a delightful feeling!
Pop it into the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until the cheese turns golden. Remove the tray and turn the focaccia bottom up to cool just a bit. Slice the focaccia into strips and heap them on a plate or into a basket with a towel or napkin to serve piping hot! Now, that’s an easy bread recipe!
This focaccia recipe goes great with soups, salads, anything Italian, and makes a great appetizer or snack. Remember, make it romantic. Do it together!
Yours along TheRomanticWay!
Rod & Holly