Tuesday, January 18, 2011

232. Parmesan-Garlic Focaccia Bread

Back in the day when I was raising my family, most pizza places only sold regular-crust pizza in large, medium and small sizes with a few standard choices of toppings, one or two salads and maybe some pasta dishes. That was the sum total of their repertoire. Today, because of consumer demand and fierce competition, the variety of Italian-style fast food is almost endless. Pizza can be stuffed or layered and thin, regular and thick crust choices are expected. It can be purchased by the slice, in a personal-size or as large as a giant rectangle.

Along with dozens of topping combinations for the adventurous pizza lover, calzone and panini may be on the menu as well as salads, dessert breads, bread sticks, dipping sauces and pastas. I love the fact that the Italian food has become mainstream enough to make terms like calzone and focaccia very familiar. I hope that someday, consumers will  even pronounce the word calzone correctly. If asked, all Italians will tell you that the ‘e’ in calzone is not silent, but  sounds like ...eee!

Focaccia is a wonderful, flavored bread and is often served in squares; it may accompany a crisp salad or be dipped into marinara sauce. I like to slice this bread and use it for sandwiches. Focaccia is easy to make and the flavor is amazing,

(I reheat left-over focaccia bread, (wrapped), in the microwave for 10 seconds before eating).

Parmesan-Garlic Focaccia Bread

1 pkg dry yeast (1 3/4 tsp yeast)
9 oz  warm water
3 C bread flour
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 T olive oil
1 tsp salt
(1/2 tsp basil, oregano or Italian seasoning blend may be added)

1 1/2 T olive oil
1/2 C sundried tomatoes, optional
1/2 C Parmesan cheese, shredded

Measure all the bread ingredients into bread machine pan. Select dough cycle. When cycle has finished, remove dough from pan. Pat dough into a greased 9x13 pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. Make indentations in the dough with the end of a wooden spoon handle, 1-inch apart. Brush dough with the olive oil and sprinkle with cheese and optional tomatoes. Bake in a 400 degree, preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until bread is golden brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack and cut into squares. Serve.

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