Snacks and sundries

Fast and fancy focaccia bread

By Sari Huhtala

Baking bread in a cast iron frying pan tops my list of brilliant ideas created by grandmothers from generations gone by. This bread requires no kneading. Hurray! No waiting for hours for the dough to rise. Hurray! And it tastes so good, you’ll have to practice some real self control not to eat it all. I also created a caramelized onion variation for the bread, and a sun-dried tomato one. Use your imagination and to create another variation.

Garlic and Rosemary focaccia bread

  • 1 ½ to 1¾ cup spelt flour
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1½ tsp active dry yeast
  • ½ tsp honey or sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Extra olive oil for greasing pan
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ tbsp chopped fresh rosemary, or 2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Combine yeast and warm water in a bowl. Add honey or sugar and olive oil. Stir and set aside for 5 minutes to allow yeast to activate. Add 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary, or 1 tsp dried rosemary into the dough. Add half of the minced garlic to the dough.

Using a hand mixer on low speed add about one cup of spelt flour and the salt. Blend well. Add the rest of the flour slowly, only until the dough starts to pull away from the edges of the bowl.

Using flour covered hands scoop the dough out of the bowl and place on a floured surface (a wooden cutting board works well) and pat into a ball. Liberally grease a cast iron pan with olive oil.

Place dough in greased pan and flatten out slightly. Set oven to 200 degrees F and place pan in oven for 20-25 minutes.

Turn oven off after 10 minutes and allow to rise for 10 more minutes.

Remove from oven. Turn oven to 400 degrees F to preheat for baking.

Blend rest of rosemary with remaining garlic and 1-2 tbsp olive oil. Brush focaccia bread with oil blend. Sprinkle top lightly with salt (ideally Himalayan or Celtic salt).

Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden.

Caramelized onion focaccia bread

Follow the above recipe, substituting the rosemary and garlic for onions.

Thinly slice one large onion into rings. Heat a pan on medium to low heat, add about one tablespoon of olive oil and onions and lightly fry onions till golden, to caramelize.

After the bread has risen for first 20 minutes, lightly brush the bread with olive oil and place onion rings on top of bread. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes. Enjoy warm right out of the pan.

 Sun-Dried tomato and basil focaccia bread

Follow the recipe above, substituting the rosemary for sundried tomatoes and basil.

Add 1 tbsp fresh basil or 1 tsp dried basil to the dough prior to adding the flour.

Chop ¼ cup of sundried tomatoes and add to the dough when flattening into pan. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes or until golden.       

Let rise, then brush with mixture of chopped sundried tomatoes, 1-2 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp dried basil. Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes.

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