Friday, August 21, 2009

Favorite Food Fridays-Easy Cheesy Focaccia

My family loves fresh, homemade bread. I love making bread. But, once the school year starts, I sometimes struggle to find the time or enthusiasm for bread baking amongst the myriad other activities of the week. I have a bread machine to help out with the kneading and rising, but I still like to do the shaping of the loaf by myself and bake it in my oven.

This recipe is a perfect solution for those afternoons when I find myself craving bread but without much time. I found it online, tweaked it to suit personal tastes, and the result is super easy and super yummy.

Easy Cheesy Focaccia
1 1/2 c. warm water
3 T. olive oil (plus extra for drizzling)
1 1/4 t. salt
3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 T. instant yeast
1/2 c. sharp cheddar, finely diced
1/2 c. coarsely grated Parmesan
Italian Seasoning
Garlic Salt

1. Lightly grease a 9x13 pan and drizzle 2 T. of olive oil in the bottom.
2. Combine water, olive oil, salt, flour and yeast and beat at high speed with an electric mixer
for 60 seconds. (Batter will be sticky!)
3. Gently stir in cheeses.
4. Preheat the oven to 375.
5. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan, cover and let rise at room temperature until batter is puffy (approximately 1 hour).
6. Gently poke the dough all over with your finger.
7. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with Italian seasoning and garlic salt (use very, very sparingly)
8. Bake the bread for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.
9. Remove from oven, place pan on cooling rack and wait for 5 minutes. Then turn it out and serve.

We love to eat this dipped in marinara. It also makes great sandwiches! If you want to switch it up, try using different cheeses, or change the seasonings. (Try using all cheddar and garnish with very thin slices of red onion and rosemary instead of the Italian seasoning and garlic salt.)

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