My sister-in-law, Catherine, is a wonderful cook. The mother of eight children, all of whom are now adults, she's spent the past 30-some years committed to preparing healthy, holistic and tasty meals for her family. As anyone knows who has struggled with getting a meal to the family table in any form, that's a sizable accomplishment.
Although anything that Catherine makes is worth returning to for seconds, she's a fantastic baker. Whenever we get together for meals with my husband's family, which often includes many of his seven siblings and their families, I look forward to her foccacia bread. It is, quite frankly, the best I've ever had. Just a little salty, with a crisp, bottom crust that almost has a fried texture, the bread has an interior both moist and substantial, and it's topped with a sprinkle of fresh rosemary that scents an entire room when the bread is warm. Delicious.
I recently pinned her down for the recipe, which she recited as if it were second nature. Four simple, basic ingredients and instructions so easy that I was sure she'd left something out. I've always been intimidated by bread making; I find something overwhelming about using yeast and tracking water temperatures, and the time and patience required for kneading and rising is more than I'm willing to give to a simple loaf of bread. Happily, there's none of that with Catherine's foccacia. It's a pleasure that is simple, straightforward and magnificently immediate.
4 cups unbleached flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons (1 packet) yeast
2 cups warm water
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped
* Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Using olive oil, grease a 12-inch cast iron skillet, or other heavy, ovenproof pan.
* Place dry ingredients into a large bowl and whisk together.
* Add water to dry ingredients, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring with a wooden (or other sturdy) spoon, scraping sides of the bowl and continuing to mix until all water added and ingredients combined.
* Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set it on the warming oven for 30 minutes.
* Place batter in skillet. Wet your hands with cold water and spread dough, keeping your hands damp as needed in order to prevent sticking.
* Once it's spread, use your fingers to dimple the top of the dough every inch or so.
* With your fingers, brush olive oil over the top, sprinkle with kosher salt and rosemary, and place pan on counter 15 minutes.
* Turn oven down to 400 degrees, and bake for 35 minutes.
* Remove foccacia from oven and let sit for about 10 minutes, then take out of pan.[[In-content Ad]]