Friday, November 17, 2006

Florentine Focaccia

I've been hearing a lot about focaccia but never actually tasted it. The few times that I have gone out to dinner, it was not on the menu. Last November, I came across a recipe for it that looked good. Although it was the dreaded multi-step recipe, for bread it quite simple. I especially liked that the time for cooking the bacon is built into the recipe instead of assuming that you just happen to have five strips of cooked bacon hanging around. That would never happen in my house. I don't normally eat bacon. In fact, when shopping for bacon for this recipe, I ended up buying turkey bacon because the pork bacon looked disgustingly fatty. Although raised on fatty meats, I've eaten only lean meats for decades. Fatty meats gross me out now.

I was unable to find Fontina cheese and substituted mozzarella instead. Due to the changing ethnic population in my town, the local grocery store has cut down on its Italian and Chinese ingredients and stocks more Hispanic foods. I can find any Chineses/Japanese ingredients I need at the local Asian market, but I'm having a tough time finding Italian ingredients.

Ten ounces of spinach is way too much. I only used about half the package and as you can see from the picture, that was plenty. The bread dough came together very easily and rose wonderfully. I can understand the need for the olive oil drizzled over the dough before baking, but it made the resulting bread very greasy. I like my bread drier to the touch. The taste was so-so. I'm very curious now to taste focaccia as served in an Italian restaurant and I wouldn't be averse to trying another recipe. I can't recommend this recipe, though.

Verdict: Not bad, but I won't be making this again.

Florentine Focaccia
(Source: Family Circle Magazine November 29, 2005)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 envelope quick-rise yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
4 ounces diced bacon (about 5 slices)
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or coarse salt
1 1/2 cups shredded Fontina cheese

1. Combine 1 cup of the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil, rosemary and 1 cup water in a saucepan until very warm (125 degrees to 130 degrees F). Gradually beat water mixture into flour mixture with a wooden spoon. Beat in 1 1/2 cups of the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, to make soft dough.

3. Knead dough on floured surface until smooth and elastic, 10 minutes, owrking in remaining 1/2 cup flour as needed to prevent sticking. shape into ball. Cover; let rest 10 minutes.

4. Saute bacon in skillet over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes until crisp. Add spinach; cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Set aside.

5. Roll out dough on a floured surface to 15 x 11-inch rectangle. Fit in greased 15 x 11 x 1-inch jelly roll pan. make indentations all over surface of dough, pressing almost to bottom of pan. Drizzle dough with remaining tablespoon oil. Scatter bacon-spinach mixture and sea salt over top. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm place until almost doubled, 30 minutes.

6. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle cheese evenly over top. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned and cheese is melted. Cut into 12 pieces. Serve warm.

Recycle: olive oil bottle

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