Bread Alone

I love bread. I love how it smells as ingredients first come together and begin to rise. I love how it smells as it bakes and has me reminiscing about childhood memories of baking with mom. I love the slight crunching sound it makes when I first cut into a fresh loaf. And the flavor and texture of a slice of focaccia when it meets my lips? It's like waking up to sunshine and love:

It used to be the options available for enjoying something like focaccia included finding a great Italian bakery and spending a lot of time kneading dough. But since my kitchen came to be home to a pretty standard bread machine, I've taken to letting it do the heavy lifting when it comes to making focaccia. The result? Baskets like the one pictured above regularly gracing my table. It's hard to argue with a simple recipe that you can toss together and ignore for a while. Then, you get to return, form beautiful focaccia, let it rest for a bit, and then let it bake for a bit. Your home ends up smelling like fantastic bread and you can use the time it takes for resting and baking to make something wonderful to have alongside it.

Of course, if you're like me, you'll find yourself pouring a bit of olive oil on a plate, sprinkling grated parmesan and pepper into it, and dragging soft, pillowy pieces of focaccia through it and calling that dinner! If you must, you could always add a simple tomato salad. Oh, and wine. Yeah, that's a lovely meal for me. Salut!

Parmesan Focaccia

  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 T. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 2 1/2 tsp. yeast
  • Coarse sea salt and pepper

Bring all ingredients to room temperature before placing them in the bread machine. Place the milk and olive oil in the pan of the bread machine. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cheese, salt, and Italian seasoning together. Carefully sprinkle the mixture over the milk and oil in the pan of the bread machine. Form a small divet in the flour, being careful to not poke through to the liquid beneath, and place the yeast in the divet.

Close the lid on the bread machine and select the dough setting. Press start. When the dough setting cycle has completed, carefully remove the dough from the machine and place it on a clean, dry, lightly-floured surface. I like to use a silicone baking mat for this step. Using flour-coated hands, stretch and start forming your dough into a rectangle. When you are done, it should mostly reach to the edges of a standard cookie sheet. Transfer to a cookie sheet (this is super easy if you use a silicone baking mat) and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Bake the focaccia for 25-30 minutes or until the top of the bread is golden and puffy. Remove from the oven and drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle coarse sea salt and pepper.

  • Yields: 10 servings
  • Preparation Time: 2.5 hours

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