For our first recipe in the series we thought we would share an easy recipe for a bread we make every day. With the introduction of the small plates menu and dinner menu we needed to make a bread that was full of flavor and texture without having to keep barm or have long fermentation periods. I developed this focaccia recipe for lunch service when I was the pastry chef at restaurant Bateaux in South Carolina. I needed a bread for service that could be started in the mornings around nine’o clock and be hot out of the oven by ten thirty; the recipe is:
5 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 – 2 3/4 cups warm water
2 tablespoons dry yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
about 3/4 cup of oil (we use 75%/25% vegetable / olive oils. pure olive oil tends to burn, and plain vegetable / canola oil will make your bread taste a little like popcorn.)
The total time takes about an hour and a half
Start by measuring the flour and salt into the bowl of a standing mixer.
Measure the yeast, warm water, and sugar into a separate container and whisk together.
Let this stand for about 5 minutes to activate the yeast. Because we added the sugar it wont take long to activate, those yeasts are hungry for sugars.
Start your mixer on medium speed with the dough hook attachment and start adding the yeast/water/sugar mixture.
Continue mixing for five or six minutes until the consistency is like stringy batter that sticks to the bottom of the bowl.
Transfer the dough to a clean mixing bowl with about 1/4 cup of oil in the bottom and cover with plastic.
At this point, preheat your oven to 500F or higher if it allows.
Proof the dough for thirty minutes or until doubled in volume.
Oil a sheet pan with another 1/4 cup of oil and use your hands to spread it everywhere. Then, use your oily hands to scoop out the dough while turning the bowl over.
Gingerly spread the dough out to meet the corners. We use a 1/2 size commercial sheet pan which is 12″x 18″, home pans are 9″ x 12″ so you may be able to make two loves. Try not to pop too many bubbles when spreading.
Dimple the top with your fingers and add the remaining oil. Let the dough rest uncovered for about ten minutes until it puffs up a little.
Before you put the bread in the oven you can add a sprinkle of kosher salt and/or rosemary to the top.
Bake at 500+ for about fifteen minutes or until the loaf is browned, hollow sounding, and most of the oil has been absorbed.
When you pull it out of the oven, flip it out of the pan right away to cool upside down or it will get soggy.