Basic Focaccia Bread

I am sure this will not come as a surprise but I LOVE food! I know I know thank you captain obvious! Well my daughter and I; well mostly me as I needed some moral support; have decided to take a much closer look at our food intake since someone might be having a pretty big birthday later this year. So it took less than a week to find out that too many carbs, not enough protein and too large of portion sizes are not really great recipe for your figure. Yeah I know another captain obvious moment here. When you see it in black and white kinda hard to deny.
IMG_5194So what do I do when we have a friend coming for dinner, my husband asked me to make the Pasta Sausage pesto dish I blogged about last week. Yeah that makes it 3 times I’ve made it in the last 2 weeks. And I decided I really wanted to make focaccia – really Donna too many carbs and makes a jelly roll pan full what is wrong with you! Maybe I am rebellious in nature? Maybe it’s the red hair thing? I really have no idea but I wasn’t sorry I made it. I was already thinking of how I would make it next time. Adding rosemary and or thyme some garlic even some caramelized onions does that not sound absolutely delicious.
IMG_5176If you have ever made focaccia and found the recipe online, you probably already have this recipe because why mess with any other when you have the master of dough making Anne Burrell’s at your fingertips. She is a master of all kinds of dough making plus so much more. I am going to share her recipe here because it’s really yummy and though it sounds like it takes a long time. The hands on part isn’t so you can do other things while the dough is rising. Next up is what to do with leftover focaccia bread as it really is a use it or lose it kind of bread.  Croutons? Breadcrumbs? Cheesy Garlic Bread? the possibilities… 
IMG_51911 ¾ cup warm water
1 package or 2 ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar
5 cups all purpose flour plus some for kneading
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
Some coarse salt for sprinkling on top
1 cup extra virgin olive oil – ½ cup in the dough, ½ cup for pan

In a small bowl or the measuring cup combine the warm water, sugar and yeast. Let stand until the yeast bubbles this can take 5-15 minutes. If it doesn’t bloom/bubble start over.
IMG_5178Once ready add the flour, kosher salt, ½ cup olive oil into the yeast mixture. Using the dough hook mix on low until combined. Once the dough has come together and released from the sides. Continue to knead on medium speed for 5-6 minutes. If the dough is too sticky add a small amount of flour so you can handle it.
IMG_5179Transfer to a clean, lightly floured surface and knead a couple of times, if it is still too sticky sprinkle with a little flour.  Add a little olive oil to coat the bowl and add the dough back into the bowl to rise. Cover with plastic and put it in a warm place to allow it to double in size. This takes about an hour.
IMG_5180IMG_5181Coat your jelly roll pan with the other ½ cup of olive oil – if you are worried about it being too much, you can add less but you are making focaccia which is an oily crusty bread – just saying!
IMG_5183IMG_5185Add the dough to the pan and start pressing it so it fits into the pan. Flip the dough to make sure that the oil gets over all of it. Continue to work the dough in the shape of the pan. Using your fingers to make dents into the dough. I didn’t make actual dimple holes in the dough but I will the next time. Mine has dimples but they are not as defined as if I actually made the holes.
IMG_5190Place the tray in a warm place until it has doubled in size, which should take an hour. About 30-45 minutes in preheat your oven to 425’F.
IMG_5193Liberally sprinkle the top with some coarse salt and then lightly drizzle a little more olive oil on top. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the loaf is golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let it cool before cutting

Thank you Anne – you are a Rock Star

Orange and Currant Scones

My daughter mentioned the other day how our food staples have changed over the years. When she was little we had simpler; is that even a word? Meals such as chicken broccoli alfredo; burritos, Kielbasa and beans that were a big part of the meal rotation. Today we have a fish tacos, pulled pork with coleslaw, One-pot pastas and skillet chicken dishes. She credited it to having a larger kitchen; I am not so sure that is what it is.
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I think it had a lot to do with the food programs on TV. My DVR is filled with Chopped, Cutthroat Kitchen, Barefoot Contessa,

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Grate the butter and place back in the fridge while you get everything else together

and The Chew episodes.  No they are not all mine; both of my kids watch cooking shows too. I think that the cast of The Chew have one of the best jobs on TV. I would LOVE to hang out with my friends and test and taste new recipes and cocktails. I think my friends and I could totally pull off a show like that; at least I think we are pretty funny and we have sure eaten some very good food over the years.
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I think by watching cooking shows, I get inspired to make what they are making. I will also admit that every time I see the Disney movie Ratatouille I make a pot of soup. The other day I was watching The Chew and Carla was making a Orange and Currant Scone. I have never had a currant, honestly didn’t even really know what it is. In case you also don’t know; it is a dried seedless grape. I am not a fan of raisins so I was a little hesitant to buy currants but I really wanted to try the scones.
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I HAVE to share with you two unsolicited quotes/praises from my husband and daughter.  My husband said after trying the scone “I would have never ordered a currant scone before; now I will” and my daughter said “Mom here is another thing you make better than any bakery” I am pretty sure there are no higher praises than those. I will be making them again soon, as I have more currants to use.
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ORANGE AND CURRANT SCONES

3 1/2 cups flour (plus additional for dusting)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 sticks butter (chilled, grated)
2/3 cup currants
2 eggs (plus 1 egg yolk, divided)
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 orange (zested)
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and clove together. Set aside.

Add the butter, toss in the flour and work, using your hands, into the flour mixture. Add the currants.

In a large bowl add the eggs, heavy cream and orange zest. Gently mix the cream mixture into the flour mixture using a fork until just combined. Do not overmix.
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Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and form into a 1-inch thick round. Cut into wedges and transfer to the parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving 1 to 2 inches between each scone.
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In a small bowl combine the egg yolk and milk. Brush over the scones and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
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Pear Bread

Last night was my annual Christmas party; it was a blast and I am not just saying that because I threw it but we always have so much fun eating, drinking and singing around the piano. Once we make it through all the usual festive Christmas songs out comes Billy Joel, Elton John, James Taylor show tunes and even Abba yes we rocked Super Trouper. We generally average around 50-60 people, some stay a couple of hours, most stay for several hours and some even stay the night. Last night we had a full house; there was a no vacancy sign out front (if we had one) for the tower 🙂 as you can tell SF I am borrowing your comment from this morning. Another comment from one of my overnight guests “I should blog about this” on how to throw an awesome party; thanks for thinking so BF.

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party aftermath photo

 

My best recommendation is prep prep prep as much as you can the day before; and finish everything off the day of the party and that includes having breakfast mostly completed before the party. No one wants to make breakfast for 12-15 people while nursing a little after party slowness. A couple of breakfast casseroles, a bread item and some fresh fruit as well as coffee and juice and voila!

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Here is a bread item that was a nice surprise for me. Sometimes I guess you can call it over prepping; I have a grand plan of making something different to serve a crowd and I just never get there, this past Thanksgiving it was poached pears, mind you for the first time and I just ran out of steam, time and ambition; it happens to the best of us. What to do with a dozen pears that you know were going to all ripen at the same time; you can only eat so many pears in a day. I personally am not a fan but my guys love them; but even they were done after day 2. I put them in the fridge to slow them down a bit but time was ticking. Poaching pears was out, now they were only good for a baked good or the trash or maybe the compost pile, yeah so far we here in New Hampshire are having a crazy mild December. I know I will regret putting that in writing.  If this winter is anything like last winter, we are in for some serious weather come January.

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I looked online to see what others had done with their over ripen pears and where I have seen many a pear cake recipe I have never heard of pear bread I figured why not? We love banana bread and zucchini bread. I was not disappointed, it was moist, flavorful and a bonus was I didn’t have to throw away any pears. I really didn’t have a backup plan if this didn’t work out. Our usual use for fruit on its last leg is to make a smoothie for breakfast but I didn’t even photograph my pears for you, they were pretty ugly.

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The bread was a hit with the family and I would make it again no questions asked. though I didn’t make this for this mornings breakfast; I would have if I had leftover pears.

Pear Bread – makes 2 loaves

3 eggs
1 ½ cups sugar
¾ cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
4 cups finely chopped peeled ripe pears (about 4 medium)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions pre-heat oven to 350’
In a large bowl or your mixing bowl combine eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla; mix well. Combine flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and soda. Stir into the egg mixture just till moistened. Toss pears with lemon juice stir pears and walnuts into the batter.

Fill about half way into 2 greased 9×5 in loaf pans. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pans to wire racks. Freezes well too!

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photo prop silliness me and my girlfriend

Oat and wheat sandwich bread

The mornings have been so chilly here in NH and us being “true Yankees” I am not sure if we don’t; or rather we won’t turn on the heat until at least mid to end of October. There were a lot of sweatshirts and blankets lying around the house of late. I have mentioned a few times that I tend to turn the oven on bake or cook something just to help take a little; very little; chill out of the air.bread 009

I found a recipe for Oat and Wheat sandwich bread that I thought sounded pretty cool and we are definitely a sandwich eating kind of family. My guys take one or two each for lunch pretty much daily. I thought it might be kind of cool to have a homemade loaf of bread, it also freezes well which is key. Plus making homemade bread has been on my bucket list of things I really want to be good at. If I can master the art of making a rustic loaf of artesian bread, what an even sweeter life it will be.

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I made this recipe as written a couple of weeks ago when the house was super cold so I needed to be a little creative in order for the dough to rise. I placed the bowl on a heating pad f or a couple of hours. Today I am making the bread again and since we broke down and turned the heat on the house is fairly warm and the dough looks AWESOME – just tasted it and it’s a keeper. it is delicious and I am making a sandwich for our late lunch right now!!!

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While the bread is easy to make and tastes good I actually needed to adjust the flour for my families liking; I thought we would like it more if we cut some of the whole wheat with some all-purpose flour. While my in-laws loved it, it was too much whole wheat for my families taste. I have both ways listed here for you to choose what you think your family would like. Feel free to play with this recipe I am going to!

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Makes 2 standard size sandwich loaves

5 cups whole-wheat flour – I’ve had some leftover (sealed) in the pantry for a while now – I used 2 whole-wheat and 3 AP-flour for today’s loaves
2 cups rolled oats (I used old fashion that I had on hand; for a less noticeable texture you can use quick-cooking)
1 Tbs. kosher salt
3 Tbs. raw or brown sugar, honey or agave nectar – I used my brother-in-law’s honey
1 large egg
¼ cup olive or vegetable oil, plus enough to coat the bowl
1¼ cup lukewarm water
1¼ cup lukewarm milk
1½ Tbs. instant yeast

Bread Dough
You can make this by hand or using a stand mixer. Same timing would be used for both.

In your bowl add the water, milk and honey or sugar, stir in the yeast. Add the egg and oil whisk to combine. Add flour, oats and salt. Using the paddle attachment at the lowest speed; mix for 1 minute. The dough will be wet and course. Let it rest for 5 minutes.

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Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium-low for 2 minutes. The dough will be a little firm and a little smoother; while still being a little sticky. If it is too wet add a bit more flour, a spoonful at a time. If it is too stiff, add a little more water, a spoonful at a time. Continue to mix the dough with the hook for 4 minutes.

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Turn the dough onto a slightly floured surface. Knead a few times, than form into a ball. Lightly oil your mixing bowl and return the dough ball to it. Cover with plastic wrap and let it proof at room temperature for at least 60 minutes. It could take longer if your house is cold. It needs to double in size; or can be transferred to the fridge and left to ferment overnight or up to 5 days. If proofing in the fridge, be sure to remove it from the fridge for at least 3 hours before you plan to bake it.

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Forming the loaves

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured counter and divide in half. Press each gently into a rough rectangle; fold in the sides so the dough is roughly the width of your loaf pan. Roll the dough from the bottom to the top and place in your loaf pan seam side down. Repeat with the remaining dough. Let proof at room temperature for about an hour, or until the dough has risen about 1 inch above the rim of the loaf pan. Halfway through rising, preheat the oven to 350’

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starting to rise

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almost done rising

Bake bread

30 to 35 minutes; rotating pans once for even color; a cooked loaf should sound a little hollow when you tap it and the internal temperature should read 190 degrees. Remove loaves from the pans and let cool on a rack. Cool completely before slicing and place in freezer bags; if you don’t eat it all before you have a chance to freeze it.bread completed 002 bread completed 003

Recipe originally published on smittenkitchen.com adapted from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day