My mom can attest to this…
I am terrified of baking bread.
Let’s just say, I’ve had my fair share of loaves come out of the oven looking and feeling more like a large ROCK than a delicious, fluffy loaf of bread. After this happened one too many times, I got pretty discouraged.
My sweet mom has been so encouraging, ensuring me that bread just takes practice. So, I mentally geared up, gave myself the pep talk, “You can do hard things Sarah,” and got to work.
And guess what?
I’m still terrified of making bread.
BUT. Each time I try, I feel a teeny, tiny bit more confident in my bread-baking skills.
I’ve made a few loaves lately that actually turned out pretty good! I’m holding my breath the entire time of course, just waiting for that oven to beep, indicating that my large rock is heated through and ready to smash into my garbage can. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the outcome of my efforts these past few times.
Turns out, mom is always right. 😉 Bread just takes practice.
The glorious thing about this Triple Tomato Focaccia Bread, is that the flatness of the pan, and shape of the “loaf” (not that you can really even call it a loaf,) leaves a little room for error. It doesn’t have to puff up into fluffy perfection. It can kinda just settle into the sheet pan and be happy as a semi-rock. Of course, if you can do things right and create a fluffy, soft focaccia, that is ideal. But, we’re all learning here.
So. I’ll let you in on my number one tip when it comes to bread baking.
The water temperature HAS to be spot on.
I think this was my problem all those times I tried to make bread. The recipe tells you to put the yeast in “warm water.” “Warm” is very subjective, people! No wonder my bread turned into a rock. So…once I started actually taking the temperature of the water before adding the yeast, things started to change for my bread-making skills.
105º – 110º F. is the sweet spot. Don’t forget it!! If you can get your water right there and then add that yeast, things will be sitting pretty for ya.
Gosh, I really hope I haven’t scared you away from making this Triple Tomato Focaccia Bread… 😉 because YOU GUYS, it is sooooo yummy. Like I couldn’t keep my hands off of it once it came out of that oven.
Whether you’re a regular bread-maker or a first-time newbie, you can do this! Just trust yourself, take a deep breath, grab that thermometer and get to work! You will be sooo happy you gave it a try. 🙂
- 2 russet potatoes
- 2 tsp. yeast
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 1 cup warm water
- 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 cups flour
- 4-5 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1-2 Tbsp. kosher salt, divided
- 1 cup sundried tomatoes in oil
- 2-3 fresh heirloom tomatoes
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1/3 cup fresh rosemary and/or basil
- Peel and grate potatoes. Add to a small saucepan with water to cover. Heat on high to boiling, turn down and simmer until potatoes are very soft, about 15 minutes. Let cool.
- Mix yeast, sugar and 1 cup warm water (105º - 110º F.) in mixing bowl, and let yeast proof for 5 minutes.
- Add cooled potatoes, 3 cups flour, 2 Tbsp. evoo and 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt. Mix to combine.
- Using dough hook, knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If dough is sticky, add another 1/4-1/2 cup flour.
- Punch dough down, form into a ball and cover. Place in a warm area and let rise until doubled in size, about one hour.
- Soak sun-dried tomatoes in water for 15 minutes. Drain well and dry well with paper towel.
- Liberally grease a cookie sheet. Punch dough down, fold sun-dried tomatoes into dough and place on cookie sheet. Spread out with fingers to cover pan. It's okay it it's not an even surface. Cover loosely with parchment or plastic wrap and let rise another 45 minutes.
- Heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Poke dough all over with fingertips to make small indentations. Brush liberally with evoo, sprinkle with rosemary and/or basil. Sprinkle very liberally with kosher salt.
- Bake 10 minutes.
- Slice heirloom tomatoes, pat dry and add to partially-baked dough.
- Bake another 10-12 minutes, until golden brown.
- Sprinkle with cherry tomatoes.
*This is a simple recipe. Don't let the instructions scare you! Active prep time is minimal; most of that time dough is just rising.
*Kosher salt is a must! Regular table salt won't work here.
*Be very generous while brushing on evoo and sprinkling with the salt. This is what makes it taste so good!
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