28 April 2014

Eats: raisin focaccia

Without a doubt, the recipe that I make most from this blog is the no-knead focaccia. I probably make it in some form about once a week. It turns up around here as a side or an appetizer, as a fancy snack for guests, as a fluffy pizza crust, or as sandwich bread. It’s so delicious and so satisfying. And it only takes a handful of pantry ingredients and a few minutes of my time!

So since I’ve become such a focaccia convert, I’ve been looking for ways to expand my repertoire – even if it took a few more ingredients, or a bit more of my time. That’s why I was so intrigued by this raisin focaccia from Tracy Shutterbean. It seemed straight out of the Cinque Terre, where Mr. P and I enjoyed focaccia and a variety of raisin treats (including sciacchetra, mmmm). Makes sense, as Tracy’s inspiration came from the Liguria Bakery in San Francisco!

I had to try making it because I couldn’t quite figure out how raisins and olive oil and sugar would come together. Spoiler alert: it was DELICIOUS. Try it for yourself!

You need raisins, obviously. I halved Shutterbean’s recipe, so I started with a cup and a half.

Well, really, I started by boiling water, because I needed to soak the raisins in an equal volume of boiling water. About fifteen minutes later, they were nice and plump! I drained off a cup of the remaining liquid and added a few tablespoons of olive oil to that.

While the raisins soaked, I also assembled my dry ingredients: 2 1/2 cups of flour, 1/4 cup of sugar, half a tablespoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon. I also added a full (not half) tablespoon of regular active yeast, not the quick-rise stuff Tracey used.

Once the dry ingredients were mixed, I added the drained raisins:

And once those were mixed in, I added in the raisin-water/olive oil liquid.

It’s important to make sure the water isn’t too hot when you add it. It should cool while the raisins are soaking, but just in case, make sure it’s barely warm, NOT hot. Otherwise you’ll kill your yeast!

I used my mixer to combine my ingredients, and then I used the dough hook to knead the dough for me. (I really can’t be bothered to knead dough now that I own a KitchenAid mixer, sorry.) Along the way, I added a few more tablespoons of flour, just to keep it from sticking too much.

Once the dough was soft but still a bit sticky, I prepared a 10x15” baking pan. I drizzled olive oil over the whole surface before spreading out the dough:

Then I covered it in wax paper and let it rise.... forever and ever and ever, if you’re like me and didn’t use quick-rise yeast. Every so often, I pressed it out to fill the pan a bit more.

All told, it took over four hours to rise to my liking – and that’s with keeping it on top of the pre-heating oven for an extended period of time, too. I do wish that I’d kept the wax paper on top the entire time, as the top got a bit dry. The long rise was worth it in the end, but I might think about getting some quick-rise yeast in the future!

Once it was nice and puffy, I used my fingers to make dimples in the dough and coated the top in olive oil. Apparently you could dust the top with sugar, but Tracy didn’t, so I opted to skip the extra sugar too.

It was at this point that I started carrying the pan around calling out, “Mr. P! I made bread that smells like IKEA! Mmmmm. Here, smell! It smells like IKEA!” Considering that IKEA’s cinnamon rolls are my favorite part of shopping at IKEA, I was clearly delighted.

Anyway! I popped the bread in the 425-degree oven for forty minutes, without a baking stone (I don’t have one). In the end, the bottom was a rich golden brown, so be careful not to overbake.

The top, meanwhile... I mean, how gorgeous is this bread?

“Downright”, I think. Downright gorgeous.

Of course, it tastes incredible, too! Like the tastiest, moistest cinnamon raisin bread you’ve ever had. It’s not too sweet, which is perfect for someone like me who struggles to eat breakfast at all, especially if it’s sweet.

And the texture! I can’t get over it. Just can’t.

So soft and chewy. Totally a company-worthy breakfast!

It’s like a slice of Italy in your own kitchen. If you haven’t become a focaccia enthusiast like me just yet, this might convert you. Enjoy!

Finally, here’s what we’re eating at Casa P this week (or not eating, as the case may be):

Sunday: lemon pepper pork, risotto (made a new way! I’ll share!), and asparagus

Monday: work dinner for me, leftovers for Mr. P

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday continues for another week, with chips and guac

Wednesday: work dinner for Mr. P, leftovers for me

Thursday: spaghetti and meatballs

Friday: red Thai chicken curry with rice and veggies

Saturday: a new panini recipe I’ll share!

Have a great week, dear readers!


Janice said...

This looks tasty enough to try but I'm an impatient baker and there's no way I'm waiting 4 hours to bake the little bugger ;) It looks good though. Next up, try Craisins instead or chocolate chips, though you mention not wanting it to be sweet, that might not be a good idea.ha

Rachel said...

Umm....did you mean to say panty in the first paragraph?

Sarah said...

@Rachel, bahahahaha! Sure, I only serve food made from... panty... ok, I can't finish that sentence. Haha! Thanks, fixed!