Sometimes you want fresh bread, but don’t have time to make it from scratch. So this the opportunity to use commercially made Ready-Dough packaged by Bridgeford, easily found in the supermarket freezer department. Using the three 1-pound loaves that come in one package, you can make the best Italian flatbread focaccia.
Defrost the dough on the kitchen counter in the package, about 7 hours (too long and it will over rise), or overnight in the refrigerator. Be sure to leave it in the bag or else the dough will dry out and develop a thick skin. If you can’t prepare the flatbreads right away, leave the package of dough in the refrigerator for a few hours until you are ready.
The use a metal or ceramic rectangular baking sheet is 12-x-15-inches with a shallow 1/2-inch sloping edge. Sprinkle with cornmeal, and then take one section of dough, pressing it into an uneven, flat oval on the pan. After letting it rest 10 minutes, use your fingers to dimple the slightly puffy dough and sprinkle on the toppings.
You can use any combination of ingredients that you want. First the dough is moistened with some oil. It is okay that the oil pools into the indentations. Then a bit of vegetables or nuts for flavor and color, then cheese. It is a balance of layering the ingredients. It is even good with just oil and sprinkled with some coarse salt.
What emerges from the oven, hot and savory, is a beautiful, rustic flatbread. It is ready to be served immediately, cut with a serrated knife, for an appetizer or with your minestrone soup or stews.
Makes 1 large flat loaf, serves about 6 to 8
- 1 loaf (1 pound) frozen bread dough, thawed in the refrigerator 12 to 24 hours or at room temperature 6 to 8 hours
- 2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal or farina, for sprinkling
- 2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
- Topping of choice (see below)
Preheat the oven to 350º. Use a baking stone if you have one, but it is not essential. Sprinkle a baking sheet heavily with cornmeal or farina.
Place the soft dough on the pan, and using floured fingers, press and push to make an evenly flat loaf about 10-x-8-inches. Let rest a few minutes, then press again to stretch the dough a bit further. Cover dough with a clean dish towel and let rest 10 to 15 minutes at room temperature (double the time if your dough was refrigerated and still cold). Assemble the topping ingredients.
Using your fingertips, press into the dough to make impressions that dimple the puffy dough. Drizzle with oil, arrange the topping of choice, and sprinkle with cheese, if using.
Immediately place in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes, until puffed and dark golden brown. Serve warm or room temperature.
Cheese and Herb Focaccia
Drizzle the dough with olive oil. Sprinkle the dough with about 3 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes. Sprinkle lightly with some dried marjoram or basil leaves, and some garlic powder.
Focaccia with Goat Cheese and Walnuts
Spread the dough with 2 tablespoons of soft butter, sprinkle with 1/3 cup of walnut pieces, and dot with 2 ounces of fresh goat cheese. Drizzle with a tablespoon of walnut oil over the top.
Knead 1/3 cup pitted and sliced kalamata black olives and 1/3 cup pitted and sliced green olives into the bread dough. Let rest 10 minutes. Press into a flat shape. Drizzle with olive oil, letting it pool in the indentations. Or just press the whole olives into the dough, as in photo.
Sprinkle the dough with 3/4 cup salsa fresca, fresh chopped tomatoes, or drained canned chopped tomatoes. Sprinkle with 2 ounces grated plain or smoked Monterey jack cheese. Drizzle lightly with olive oil.
Brush the dough with some olive oil. Sprinkle with 3 to 4 cloves of chopped garlic or pierce with slivered garlic. Drizzle liberally with more olive oil.
Drizzle the dough with some walnut, hazelnut, or pecan oil, letting the oil pool in the indentations. Sprinkle lightly with a tablespoon of a dried or fresh herb, such as rosemary, oregano, basil, or marjoram. Sprinkle with coarse kosher or sea salt.
Roasted Red Pepper Focaccia
Brush the dough with some olive oil. Lay four 1/2-inch strips of teleme cheese over the dough and some strips of roasted red peppers crisscrossing over the cheese. Drizzle with some more olive oil and sprinkle with some garlic powder.
Excerpted from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook, by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann. (c) 2005, used by permission from the Harvard Common Press.
Recipe and text copyright Beth Hensperger 2016
Please enjoy the recipe and make it your own. If you copy the recipe and text for internet use, please include my byline and link to my site.