Monday, March 7, 2011

Breakfast, lunch and dinner

A sandwich? A pizza? What is that, you ask? 

Answer: It's a stuffed focaccia and yes, it tastes as good as it looks!! No, it tastes better. It does taste a bit like pizza ... only better! A little like a sandwich ... only better. It tastes gooood!

 I'd like to blow my own trumpet but the recipe isn't mine. I got it off a gorgeous site called The Italian Dish.   Elaine, the author/creator of The Italian Dish stuffed her facaccia with sausage and onion and boy, did it look sexy. I had to make it. Had to. 

This, Elaine says, is perfect for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Hey that's like all Malaysian food. We eat nasi lemak, thosainoodles and roti canai (etc) for breakfast, lunch and dinner too.   

I decided to test the theory out. I served this focaccia to R for breakfast and dinenr (ok, I was lazy and not at all testing any theory out). He loved it and didn't mind the repeats! So, yeah, thanks Elaine. 

Breakfast for me is a nice big cup of iced tea, Malaysian style (thick tea with lotsa sweet milk). All my friends and everyone I work with (even people I don't really talk to) knows that I HAVE TO have a huge mug of tea before I can function. Those who are really close to me, like my good friend Sree (also my traveling partner)  know that they should stay clear if I haven't had my tea. 

And yet, I love breakfast. Well, I love breakfast food. Eggs are a favourite; as are puff pastries (I love croissants) and bread. So, I kept a slice of this gorgeous creature for my Sunday dinner. 

What this is, really, is genius. You make your focaccia dough, you divide it into two. Instead of spreading it out on a rectangular baking pan/sheet, you use a round, spring form pan. You spread one portion of the dough on the base of the pan, add whatever filling you wish in  the center and lay the other piece of dough on top, indenting it and drizzling olive oil and toppings (herbs or chilli, salt and pepper) as usual.

Elaine's recipe for focaccia differed a little from mine. Her's is courtesy of award-winning cook Carol Field and uses a sponge (a starter) to give the dough a better rise and a softer, spongier texture. The recipe was genius and I think this will be my go to recipe for focaccia for a while.
For my stuffing, I chose roasted red peppers, sauteed mushroom and cheese. It was good but I really should have packed more stuffing in! Next time I will. And next time, I'll make a chunkier, more robust filling because this bread deserves it. 

Try it! You have to try it.   

Stuffed Focaccia Bread With Sausage and Onions
adapted from The Italian Dish

The sponge
1/2 cup tepid water
3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
3/4 cup all purpose unbleached flour

The dough 
1 heaped teaspoon instant yeast
1 cup water 
3 tbsp olive oil
3.25 cups unbleached all purpose flour (+/-)
 2 tsp sea salt 

The Stuffing
Anything you wish!

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt
black pepper and a sprinkling of chili flakes/dried herbs  

First, we make the sponge.
Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in the bowl of your stand mixer; stir in the flour and cover it with cling film and  let rise until double the original size (it will be a little bubbly) for about 45 minutes.

Moving on to the dough. Add the yeast, water and the olive oil to the sponge in the bowl. Using the dough hook, start mixing on a low speed and gradually add 3/4 of the flour and all the salt. The dough should come together; if it's sticking to the sides of the flour add more of the flour until the dough doesn't stick to the sides anymore (almost completely stick free). Make sure you don't have a dry ball of dough though. You should use the amount of flour stipulated or just a couple of tablespoons more. Thats all.  The dough should be nice and smooth and elastic. 

Transfer the dough into a nicely oiled bowl, cover and leave it for about 75 mins. IT will rise to double its size. 

Meanwhile, you can prepare your stuffing. I'm leaving this one up to you.

Assembling the bread
Lightly oil the base of a 23cm spring form pan.
Punch down the dough that's risen and divide it into two. Flatten one gently and transfer into the spring form pan, to cover the base nicely. 
Add your filling and please, be generous.
Stretch the second portion of dough and place it atop the stuffing.
Dimple the dough with your fingers and drizzle some olive oil on the top. Sprinkle some salt, pepper, chilli flakes and herbs and let it sit for about 30 mins.
Preheat your over to 200C
Bake for 30-35 mins; your crust should be a rich gold. 
Remove, drizzle a bit more olive oil and cover with a damp cloth until you're ready to serve. 

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