What I Made: Focaccia with Cherry Tomatoes, Feta, and Garlic

I’m not very skilled at bread baking.  While I’ve got no problems with cake-like breads, like banana or zucchini breads, I sometimes struggle with making yeast breads. I’ve had more than a few sets or rolls turn out tough. This week’s focaccia recipe may be the first step towards conquering my fears.

The first step of course, is combining the warm water and the yeast.  After the yeast has dissolved, whole wheat flour, olive oil, sugar and salt are added.  Then, flour is added until the dough reaches a stiff consistency. I should note: the original recipe suggests using bread flour, but I was waaaaay too cheap to buy flour I wasn’t going to use that often.  Instead, I used regular whole wheat flour in place of whole wheat bread flour and all purpose flour instead of bread flour. The dough is then kneaded and left to rise until is doubles in size, about 45 minutes.

Waiting is always the hardest part.

After the dough has risen, thin basil slices are incorporated.  The dough rests for 10 minutes, then gets rolled out into a pan and rests 10 more minutes.  Finally, the tomatoes, garlic, and cheese are pressed into the top of the loaf.  The tomatoes should be cut side up so they cook down nicely under the heat of the broiler. 15-ish minutes at 450 (plus additional cheese melty/tomato toasty time under the broiler) is all it takes to turn out a great-tasting and impressive looking loaf of focaccia!

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Sorry the photo is a bit blurry, but it was hard to see through all the smoke.

The original recipe suggests using a 10″ x 15″ jelly roll pan to bake the bread, but more important than the dimensions is that the pan have a bit of a lip so the olive oil doesn’t run off and burn in the bottom of your oven.  Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything, but let’s just say my neighbors probably didn’t appreciate hearing my smoke alarm as frequently as they did while I was baking this.

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What I Made: Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread with Walnuts

Even though zucchini keeps pretty well in the fridge, I still feel the pressure to use it up.  Zucchini bread is a classic, of course, but this recipe ups the ante with chocolate chips and walnuts.  Now, I don’t usually choose to add nuts, but since I’ve been eating more veggies and less meat, I thought it was a great way to sneak a little extra protein into my diet.
Grating zucchini is a great arm workout for those of you as out of shape as I am! You’ll need 1 and 1/3 cups.  I didn’t peel my zucchini, but the original recipe suggests you do.
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By far the greatest part of this recipe is the “dump and stir” aspect.  Add all ingredients to a bowl.  Stir. Bake. Eat.

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90 minutes at 350 F later, the zucchini bread is ready.

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About 5 minutes before the bread is actually cool enough to handle, I am already burning my fingers enjoying a steaming slide with a glass of milk.CCZBread6

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