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Olive Focaccia Bread

Last post of the year!  Got any resolutions planned?  I don’t usually partake in this ritual, but might give it a shot this year.  Maybe I should try introducing one each month instead of trying to do all at once and failing. :P

Very much related: I have this problem of being overly ambitious in my mind, and then not quite being able to live up to my plans.  Baking for holidays is no excuse: there were about three more things I wanted to make for Christmas, which is laughable now that I look back at it.  In addition to Stollen and cupcakes, I made focaccia bread…only things didn’t go quite as I had hoped.

I had never made focaccia bread, but wanted to do so because my aunt and uncle were having lasagna for our Christmas Eve lunch.  While looking up recipes, I found Pioneer Woman‘s Olive Focaccia which sounded simple (no kneading!) and yummy (bread with olives in it, yo).  Another incentive was that she said the dough could be refrigerated until needed.

Olive Focaccia Bread

My plan then was to mix it up, pop it in the fridge overnight, then shape, rise, and bake in the morning as I did with these rolls.  Wellll…I (thought I) had a bit of a fail.  But then it turned out to be the most delicious bread I’ve ever made.  I’ll explain what I did below in case you’re wondering how to make overnight focaccia. 

(by the way, I didn’t take any process photos since it was almost 4am when I started, and then I was going nuts the next morning, and had lost all confidence. :P  Go to P. Dub’s post for her step-by-step photos…she’s the queen!)

Olive Focaccia Bread
from Pioneer Woman

This bread is super simple and AWESOME (and fool-proof, as it turns out).  There’s barely any hands on time!  You could totally mix in whatever you want if olives aren’t your thing.  I think fresh rosemary is calling my name for next time…

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 cup olives, roughly chopped (use any kind! I used Kalamata)
optional: my sister has these Garlic Gold Nuggets which we also sprinkled on top

How things went down (in other words, what I did wasn’t exactly what Ree did):

Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water.  After it has sat for a few minutes, stir to dissolve yeast.

In a mixer, combine flour and salt.  With mixer (paddle attachment) on low, drizzle in olive oil the olive oil until combined.  Next, pour in the yeast/water mixture and continue mixing until just combined.  The dough will be sticky and shaggy.

Warm a big, non-metal mixing bowl in the microwave (I did 30 seconds).  Lightly drizzle it with olive oil, then dump the dough in it and form a rough ball.  Roll the dough around until it’s coated in the oil, then cover with plastic wrap.

** Here’s where things get different: Ree says to let the dough rise for 1 to 2 hours OR to refrigerate it until ready to use.  I stuck mine in the fridge overnight.  She doesn’t specify what you’re supposed to do next, and I didn’t know enough about yeast to know which to do: proceed to the next step in the morning or let it rise some more at room temperature first.  Since it doubled in size overnight, I thought it would be fine to do the next step.  Yeah, not so much.  When I tried to knead the olives into the dough, they just wouldn’t stick.  I was also running late, so I just gave up and stuck it back in the fridge (covered).

So then, the NEXT morning (Christmas), I decided to give it another chance and let it sit out at room temperature for an hour.   At this point, lightly knead in the chopped olives until incorporated, then divide the dough in half.   After greasing two baking sheets with olive oil, flatten out the dough halves on both.  (Ree used a rolling pin, but I just used my hands.  This resulted in a thicker, poofier bread.)  Finally, lightly drizzle olive oil over each, then cover them loosely with plastic wrap.  Let proof for an hour. (it was more like two for me, and most of this time was spent in my car…)

Preheat oven to 400F.  Remove plastic wrap from both, then poke dimples with your fingers all over each.  Drizzle more olive oil over the tops, then sprinkle with kosher salt (we also used those garlic nuggets here).  Bake for 30 – 40 minutes, or until golden brown.  I rotated the sheets a couple times.

Cut into pieces (I used a pizza cutter) and serve warm.

Olive Focaccia Bread

My sister mixed up some olive oil, kosher salt, pepper, and garlic nuggets for us to dip this in.  OM NOM NOM.

Happy New Year, everyone!  Hope you have fun whatever you do, and stay safe. :)  See you in 2011!