Saturday, September 20, 2008
Italian cuisine is incredibly diverse, every city and town has its specialties. Meeta's La Cucina Italiana event celebrating the authentic Italian food,was inspiring to try something authentic from Italian cuisine.
I make Pizza ,Biscotti,calzones ,ravioli and pasta from Italian cuisine . The ingredient i adore the most in Italian cooking is the Olive oil and i always go light with cheese in any Italian recipe that has cheese .Crusty Italian breads enriched with Olive oil are perfect accompaniment to dinner , for delicious sandwiches or even for making french toast. .The Sweet Focaccia sounded simple to make and irresistibly delicious with sweetness from dried fruits and crunchy crust from granulated sugar and moist texture from surplus olive oil.
Focaccia(pronouced as foe-CAH-cha), is delicious crusty Italian flat bread. Its popular in north western Italy((Liguria) as a side for any meals or sandwich breads or a base for Pizza. The basic recipe is thought by some to have originated with the Ancient Greeks. Focaccia can be savory with Herbs ,vegetables or sweet with dried fruits.Its made by rolling out or pressing by hand thick layer of dough and dotting it with a spoon or fingers to allow the soaking of Olive oil which makes the bread moist .It is traditionally baked on a stone hearth.
Sweet Focaccia is a heavenly snack with a cup of coffee. The original recipe is posted here at Martha Stewart's website, the video available was also very helpful. Made no changes to the original recipe ,just made the bread in a smaller size in 9x9 inch square pan and hence halved all the original proportions.
2 1\2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup golden raisins or used a cup of fresh fruits like blueberries or chopped peaches ,apricots any fruit of your choice
1 1\2 cups boiling water
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
Soak Dried fruits
Boil 11\2 cup of water in small sauce. Drop the fried fruits in the boiling and allow to soak about 10 minutes. Drain fruit, reserving 2 cups of the soaking liquid; set fruit aside.
Make the dough
Add 1/4 cup olive oil to the soaking liquid. In a large bowl combine the flour, 1/4cup granulated sugar, yeast, salt, and cinnamon; mix just to combine.Add reserved fruit and soaking liquid. Mix until the fruit is evenly distributed but the dough is still tacky not sticky, about 2 minutes.
Allow the dough to rise
Press dough onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead for 1 minute. Pour 1/4 cup olive oil onto a 9x9 inch baking square pan, coating the bottom completely. Place the dough on top of the oil, and use your hands to spread it out as much as possible without tearing (it doesn't have to fit the pan). Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap, and continue to pat and press the dough toward the edges. Set pan in a warm place, and let rest, pressing out the dough every 10 minutes until it fills the pan, about 45 minutes.
Now allow the dough to rise for the second time by resting until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Bake the Bread
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Using your fingers press dimples into dough. Drizzle dough with any remaining olive oil, and sprinkle evenly with granulated sugar. Set the baking on the top rack of the oven and bake until focaccia is deep golden brown on top and bottom, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes. Loosen the edges using a table knife and keep on cutting board to cool. Use a pizza wheel or a serrated knife to cut bread into rectangles and serve.
My family relished the focaccia for Iftar(Fast break after sunset). Few pieces left will stay good wrapped in plastic for 2-3 days. Focaccia was a sweet beginning for my love for Italian breads.
This shot of Sweet Focaccia is my entry for Click-Crusts, an exciting monthly photo event hosted by Jai and Bee of Jugalbandi