Focaccia with Onions and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Adapted from the "Basic Focaccia" recipe from Focaccia: Simple Breads From The Italian Oven by Carol Field
Measurements are metric; U.S. equivalents provided in parentheses.
Makes two 30 cm round focacce (12 inches)
Stir the yeast into the warm water in a mixing bowl. Leave until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon. Dampen a tea towel with warm water from the tap and cover the bowl with it. Let rise until bubbly and doubled, about 45 minutes.
Stir the yeast into the warm water in a small bowl. Let stand as above until creamy. With a wooden spoon, stir the yeast mixture and olive oil into the sponge. Chop the dried tomatoes into small bits and add them. Add the sea salt to the flour and stir that into the sponge mixture, 100 g at a time, or in about five goes. Keep mixing until everything is well-blended. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead it on a lightly floured cutting board for about 8 to 10 minutes. By that time it should be a coherent ball. It will stick to your fingers and the cutting board, but not too much.
Leave the dough on the cutting board while you clean out the mixing bowl and dry it. Then put a small amount of olive oil in the bowl and spread it around with your fingertips. Put the ball of dough back into the mixing bowl, and cover it back up with the tea towel. Let it rise until doubled, at least 1 ¼ hours. It can do no harm to leave it longer.
After rising, scoop out half the dough (it will deflate, so don't handle it over much) and...
If you are fortunate enough to have a pizza stone: ...cut a square of wax paper or baking paper about the size of your pizza stone, sprinkle it with cornmeal (optional) and press the dough out on it, in the shape of the pizza stone. You would do well to flour, oil or wet your hands. It may not stretch all at once, in which case leave it alone for ten minutes and then do it again. Cover it with the tea towel again and let rise for about an hour.
If you do not have a pizza stone: ...oil a baking tray and press the dough out on it, proceeding as above.
Do the same with the other half of the dough, although you could use one half one day and the other half the next (keep covered but do not refrigerate) or just wait until the one half is off the baking pan before putting the other half on it. Or you could of course use two baking trays if you feel like washing up more.
- small amount of extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 2 small onions
- 1 teaspoon rosemary (more is good too)
Half an hour before the dough is done rising, preheat your oven, with the pizza stone inside if you have it, to 200 °C (425 °F). Chop the onions into strips and fry them in the oil, with the rosemary, until they start to become translucent. Dimple the dough with your fingertips and sprinkle the sea salt on top. Spread half of the onions on top of the dough, and the other half on the other one if you have already flattened it out.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden. If you have a pizza stone, it probably came with a wooden paddle. Use that to slide the wax paper on and off the pizza stone. The onions will get quite crispy. Depending on your oven (and your taste for crispy onions) you may want to delay putting the onions on until halfway done baking. When done baking, remove immediately from the pan or wax paper and let it cool on a rack, otherwise the bottom will become soggy.
Note: different countries have different flours. I live in the Netherlands, so if you don't, or even if you do, you may need significantly more or significantly less flour.
Another note: I haven't had much luck with doubling this recipe yet. My best result so far was to leave the sponge like it is and do one-and-a-half times the rest of the ingredients, making three focacce.
Still another note: You can make and knead the dough in a mixer (not the sponge though). However, I have no experience with that.
One last note: With olive oil, less is more.