June 27, 2012 by Sara Kreidler
Each week, I post either a cooking or canning recipe that uses the week’s featured CSA ingredient. Please excuse my chronic tardiness.
The featured item for week 4 of the CSA is thyme. I figured the herbs don’t get the attention they deserve, and wanted to post a recipe that really showed off the thyme.
I’ve always been intimidated by baking. Unlike cooking, where I usually feel free to wing it and change the recipe as I go, baking requires precision, and I’m not a terribly precise person (except when I am canning, when I am very precise because I want to make sure my recipe is safe). Now that I’m home full time and have more time to play in the kitchen, I decided to try my hand at baking.
The original recipe called for thin rounds of lemon on top, and I made the first batch that way but we found it to be too sour. So I eliminated the lemons on the second go round, and the results were great. The bread is really easy to make, and you can play with the herbs — I’m going to try some different combinations next time. This bread is really great served with a hearty soup like minestrone, or with a pasta dish like garlic scape pesto.
Note that this recipe makes 4 loaves of foccacia bread. I divided the dough into 4 portions and froze two of them, and I only used half of the herbs called for below as a result. I have since thawed and baked one of the frozen batches, and can tell you that it was just as good as the unfrozen dough. You can reduce the recipe by half if you don’t want as much dough, but it’s really not much more work to make the full batch and then you have dough frozen and ready to use when you need it. Also, note that I used a stand mixer with a bread hook to make the dough, but you can mix the dough by hand if you don’t have a stand mixer.
- 1 envelope active dry yeast
- 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 4 cups bread flour (I use King Arthur flour), plus a little extra for kneading
- 2 teaspoons table salt
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped (reduce amount if you are not baking all 4 loaves at once)
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped (reduce amount if you are not baking all 4 loaves at once)
- Sea salt or kosher salt
- In a small mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. Add 1 1/4 cups water and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the yeast.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour and table salt and mix until incorporated. Add the yeast mixture and, using the bread hook attachment for the mixer, mix on medium speed for about a minute, or until a rough ball of dough forms, Transfer the dough to a clean, well floured surface and knead until smooth, but do not overwork the dough. Shape the dough into a ball.
- Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil into a large mixing bowl. Place the ball of dough in the bowl and roll it around in the bowl until it is well coated with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm spot until it has doubled in size, about two hours. After two hours, divide the dough into quarters and wrap in plastic wrap and freeze any dough that you are not going to use immediately.
- For each quarter of dough that you are baking, drizzle a small amount of olive oil into an 8-inch round (or square) cake or pie pan. Put the dough in the pan and use you fingers to spread out the dough in the pan. Note that the dough is very stretchy and will spring back a bit. Spread it out in the pan by hand as best you can, then let the dough rest for about 5 minutes — it will spread out the rest of the way on its own while it rests.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cover the bread with a damp dishcloth and let it rest of another 30-60 minutes.
- Remove the dishcloths and sprinkle the rosemary and thyme over the dough. Using your finger, poke dimples into the dough. Drizzle the top of the dough with olive oil so that it pools into the dimples. Sprinkle with a good pinch of sea salt or kosher salt.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the edges of the bread are golden brown. Allow the bread cool a bit, then use a spatula to remove the bread from the pan, and slice into wedges.