Monday, October 3, 2011

Caprese Focaccia

Summer is gone and fall is full steam ahead here in middle Tennessee.  It is so lovely!  I can comfortably wear boots and cardigans, and I spent a wonderful afternoon riding at my in-laws yesterday.  (Horses... just to clear any confusion you may have.  Although, I don't know what else you might think I would ride...?)  However, I am still clinging to the flavors of summer.  We haven't had our first frost yet, so there are still gorgeous bunches of basil and beautiful ripe tomatoes to be found.  This is my send off and farewell-until-next-year recipe for summer.

Caprese Focaccia
1 1/2 C whole wheat flour (or AP flour)
1 pkg active dry yeast
1 Tbsp honey
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil (plus more for the bowl)
1 tsp dried basil
1 1/2 C hot tap water (as hot as your tap will get, not boiling)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4- 1 1/2 C AP flour
sea salt
3-4 lrg roma tomatoes, very thinly sliced and any excess liquid removed
8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced and torn into pieces
3-4 Tbsp fresh chopped basil

   In a large bowl (glass preferably, I find it rises better), add whole wheat flour, yeast, honey, oil, basil, and water.  Stir combine.  Allow to proof for about 5 minutes, until tiny bubbles form on the surface. 
   Add salt and about half of the regular flour.  Combine.  Slowly incorporate the last half of the all-purpose flour until it forms a ball and pull away from the bowl.
   Turn onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead until dough is stretchy and very slightly sticky to the touch.  It will take about 5 minutes.  Add flour as needed.
   Wash and dry bowl, or in another bowl, coat the inside with oil.  About 2 Tbsp.  Turn dough in oil to coat.  Cover with a warm, damp towel.  Allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours in a warm dry place until doubled in size.  (I like to stick it in the oven, which is off, of course.)
   Punch dough down, divide in half.  Spread onto lightly sprayed cookie sheets to form roughly 12x8 inch rectangles.  You want there to be little tears and holes so you get the right texture in the end (see picture below.)  Allow to rise for 30-40 more minutes, until the holes and tears come back together.
   Sprinkle with sea salt. 
   Bake at 350 deg F for 12 minutes, until very lightly golden.
   Top with tomatoes and mozzarella.  Bake at 350 deg F for another 10 minutes, until cheese is gooey and melty.
   Sprinkle with fresh basil.
   Serves 8 (makes 2 breads).  If you are using this for party-, finger-food, this recipe is good for 16 people.  (But let's be honest, I could a whole one by myself.)


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