Is there a more comforting aroma than bread baking in the oven? Even the whole process of making homemade bread is therapeutic! Though breads like this take time, are a wee bit difficult, but not unmake-able, they are a royal TREAT that should most definitely be made and enjoyed on occasion!
There truly is nothing better than bread made by your own hands. So simple, yet so complex in form. This recipe, with a little tweaking, worked out beautifully and was exactly the denseness that I was looking for.
I have tried other recipes in the past claiming to be “focaccia”, but were nothing more than white bread really. Tall and fluffy.
That’s not even close to being real focaccia. Focaccia should be a flatter, very dense bread with tiny bubbles, that was probably used as a daily staple alongside a meal and especially designed to absorb the extra juices from tomato-based sauces served with pasta, and piping hot bowls of soup for sopping.
It also makes for a fabulous toasted panini, which is exactly what I was making this for! 😉
I had a terrible addiction to Panera Bread’s toasted paninis back when we lived in a different town and their restaurant was literally a stone’s throw away. When we moved, I thought I was going to need therapy!! I figured it would just plain be a lot cheaper to try and recreate my favorites, so that’s exactly what I did!
You’ll find my very own copycat recipe of their Chicken Tomesto Panini, and coming tomorrow, their Turkey Artichoke Panini, just as tasty as, and authentic tasting, as theirs! (I personally think they’re even better! 😉 )
But the one thing that was missing was their bread. The grocery store selection wasn’t nearly cutting it, slim to none. So, after searching, I think I found their recipe and gave it a shot!
After reading several bad reviews, I became a little nervous to attempt it, but I was determined to make this work. So I made just a few minor adjustments and had no trouble at all. It turned out perfect!! Exactly what I was longing for!
The main complaint about this recipe seemed to be that the dough was much too dry and unworkable. I added just a Tbl. more of water and it did just fine.
Remember, this is not a fluffy white bread. The dough is stiff and bakes up dense just as it should.
Not as dense as a good bagel, but just right. 😉
I found that this bread is even better the next day. The first day, after cooled, wrapped and rested; had a bit too strong of a yeast taste.
By the next day, though, the outer crust softened just a bit and the yeast flavor completely mellowed. The taste, now, is absolutely fabulous!!
It couldn’t be prettier, and I almost hated to slice it! Almost. 😉
But wow did it slice up beautifully!
Just use a nice sharp bread knife to cut the bread, as you should always use when slicing bread, and you’ll have picture-perfect slices!
I sooooo wish you could smell this! My entire house smelled like an Italian bakery!
So, if you’re wanting to try your hand at making some homemade focaccia, this recipe really does work and is the best one I’ve ever tried. And I used to make a lot of breads! Hence my nickname, “Wildflour”! (See what I did there? 😉 )
And if you’re longing for a good Panera Bread-style panini, look no further because this is it, folks!
The real deal, and to me, it tasted even better!
I’ll post my recipe for the above panini, the Turkey Artichoke for you first thing tomorrow! So be sure to check back! 😀
*Recipe source and inspiration: Panera Bread
***Update! Here’s a link to my copycat Panera Bread “Turkey Artichoke Panini” !! 😀
TRIPLE CHEESE FOCACCIA with PARMESAN, ROMANO & ASIAGO
Makes 2 loaves
1 cup warm water (95 – 105 degrees)
2 tsp. fresh active dry yeast
1 cup (4.875 ounces) flour
3/4 cup + 1 Tbl. warm water
3 Tbl. honey
4 tsp. fresh active dry yeast
1/4 cup + 1 tsp. butter-flavored shortening
4 3/4 cups (23 ounces) flour
1 Tbl. regular table salt
1/2 cup (2 ounces) 1/2″ cubes romano cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) 1/2″ cubes parmesan cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) 1/2″ cubes asiago cheese
starter (recipe above)
In medium bowl, stir warm water and yeast until yeast is fully dissolved. Stir in flour until fully mixed. Cover with a towel or damp paper towel sheet and place in warm spot to ferment for 30 minutes. *I always place mine in my oven with the door shut and the light on.
*While starter is fermenting and rising, get all of your ducks in a row and ready to go for the dough, including having the cheeses all cut up and tossed in a bowl to mix up.
In stand-mixer bowl, stir water, honey and yeast until yeast has dissolved. Add shortening in small pieces/dollops. Add flour, salt, cheeses and fermented starter scraping the bowl with a spatula to add it all. Mix on medium-low using the bread dough hook until dough is fully mixed. Remove dough from bowl and divide into 2 equal parts.
Form each into a smooth ball as best you can, and place each into separate bowls. Cover with a warm, damp towel or paper towel sheets and place in warm spot to rise for 30-40 minutes. (*Again, I just use my oven with the light on and the door closed.)
Form the dough into loaves and place onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Cover with a damp warm lint-free towel or paper towel sheets soaked with warm water and wrung out.
Place back into warm spot and let rise for 45 minutes. Remove from oven, and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Dough will continue to rise while oven is heating up, (another 15 minutes.) *Total last rise is about 1 hour.
Score the tops with a sharp knife making slashes across top at an angle about a 1/4″ deep and 2″ apart or so.
Spritz with warm water and bake for 30 minutes in preheated oven. Or until crusts are deep golden brown in color, and loaves sound hollow when tapped. Remove loaves of bread from oven.
Remove from baking sheets and place on racks to cool for 30 minutes. When cool, wrap tightly with pastil wrap and store on counter overnight.
Note: *If you’re very lucky as I am, and have double ovens, use them both and when you pop them into the ovens, place a small tray or small oven-proof pan on bottom rack with 2 handfuls of ice in each for a harder outer crust. This is what I did and it worked out beautifully.