Do you secretly admire those who make bread? For them, understanding yeast and kneading dough is no problem. It’s not complicated to turn yourself into a bread baker.
Think of your yeast as a friend, one you must not harm with great heat and one who will get very disinterested in you if you don’t keep him comfortably warm. Under these conditions, he will froth for you, once you’ve tickled his palate with a little sugar or honey. He likes to be stirred. There’s more.
Once with flour added, he likes kneading, a mind-freeing, rhythmic exercise. On a floured surface he, in his new incarnation, glides smoothly, folds almost automatically and makes ready to glide again. This is called, “therapy,” by many. Everybody relaxes, you and him. Bread is underway!
After the kneading your new friend does his magic, his greatest trick. After you have tucked the dough away in a greased bowl and an hour passes, your friend has doubled the dough, turned it into twice as much.
A little sadly, you “punch” it down, or deflate it, remove from bowl and you get to knead it again. It will soon be off to the oven.
We are suggesting you christen your new friendship with a simple, delicious and versatile bread – Focaccia. Following is a beginning recipe we believe will serve you well:
Easiest Focaccia Recipe
“Extremely easy, fast and cheap. Great for sandwiches and snacks. You may use more or less olive oil or salt if you wish.”
• 1 teaspoon white sugar
• 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
• 1/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
1. In a small bowl, dissolve sugar and yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture with flour; stir well to combine. Stir in additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until all of the flour is absorbed. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly for about 1 minute.
3. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F (245 degrees C).
5. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface; knead briefly. Pat or roll the dough into a sheet and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Brush the dough with oil and sprinkle with salt.
6. Bake focaccia in preheated oven for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on desired crispness. If you like it moist and fluffy, then you’ll have to wait just about 10 minutes. If you like it crunchier and darker in the outside, you may have to wait 20 minutes.
Now, move on to bigger breads. You can do it!