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Sounds Like I'm Swearing...

But I'm not!  Why does it sound like I'm swearing?  Because I made focaccia!  Focaccia you too.  I actually got this idea while watching an episode of Iron Chef America - Battle Bread.  Alton Brown, during his commentary, mentioned focaccia and how it was sometimes used as pizza dough.  I have a great gluten-free baking cookbook, which has recipes for both pizza dough and focaccia.

Let me tell you why this is a big deal.  Obviously, having to be gluten-free has changed some of our dietary habits radically.  Not all, just some.  Pizza is no longer the same.  For a while, I would continue to get regular, frozen, take-home pizzas while Mike got the GF versions.  Then one day, I was struck with a sense of...curiosity?  I'm not really sure, but I decided to also get a GF pizza.  Have you had one of these abominations?  Ugh, they're horrible, like chewing on cardboard.  "This is what you've been eating?" I said to Mike.  "I'm making you a better pizza," was my next declaration, which brings us back to focaccia.

Mike loves a thick, chewy crust to his pizza, so I thought this would be the perfect solution to the pizza conundrum.  Here's the recipe:

GF Focaccia (Rustic Flat Bread)
By Annalise Roberts

Makes one 8 or 9-inch round bread

1½ cup GF Bread Flour (I used all-purpose GF flour)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 packet (¼ oz.) of dry, quick-rise yeast granules
1 teaspoon olive oil
¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon water, heated to 110°F
Olive oil
Sea salt
Fresh rosemary (if desired)
Spray an 8- or 9-inch round cake pan with baking spray and lightly dust with rice flour or sprinkle with cornmeal.

Mix all dry ingredients in large bowl of electric mixer. Pour warm water (110°F) and olive oil into mixing bowl; mix until just blended. Scrape bowl and beaters, and then beat at high speed for 2 minutes.

Spoon dough into prepared pan and spread it out to the sides with a spatula. Cover with a light cloth and let rise in a warm place (about 80°F) for about 40 minutes. Bread should be approximately double in height.

Place rack in lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 400°F while bread is rising.
Sprinkle olive oil over top and carefully spread it into a thin film over the entire surface of the bread (use your fingers to do this for best results). Sprinkle with rosemary and sea salt (or other toppings of your choice).

Bake 8-inch bread for 20-25 minutes, 15-20 minutes for 9-inch bread. Bread should be medium golden in color and cooked through. Remove bread from pan and cool on a rack for 15 minutes; slice and serve.

Bread can be prepared in advance; bake according to directions. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack. Wrap well in plastic wrap and then foil. Bread can be stored in refrigerator for up to three days or freezer for up to three weeks; wrap well in plastic wrap and then foil. Defrost in plastic wrap. Rewarm in 350°F preheated oven for 10-15 minutes; sprinkle bread with a bit of water and wrap in foil, but open the foil for the last five minutes.

Dry ingredients can be mixed ahead and stored in plastic containers for future use. Do not add yeast until just ready to bake bread.

Recipe can be doubled if desired.

Gluten-Free Baking Classics by Annalise G. Roberts has become my new best friend.  Everything I've made from her book has been brilliant.  Also, here's the lineup of ingredients.  As I mentioned above, I didn't use GF bread flour.  Rather, I had regular GF flour on hand, so I used that.  No worries.  It all turned out great.

Here you can see the dough coming together.  Because I don't have that much experience in traditional baking anyway, much less in focaccia making, I don't know how much this differs from the stuff made with regular wheat flour.

I know it looks a little sticky, but it's not really so bad.  A touch of GF flour and you're good to go.

See?  Easy-peasy.  All flattened out.  I confess, I used my spatula to flatten it because my nails are long, and they kept on leaving little half moon marks in the dough, which isn't the look I was going for.

The recipe called for the dough to be left to rise in a spot that was about 80 degrees.  Sadly, nowhere in my house is 80 degrees, so I tucked a heating pad beneath the pans, covered it up, and turned the pad to medium.  Genius.

Oh!  Look how puffy it got!  Perfection!  Here's the part where things began to get really fun.  I've never made focaccia before, so I decided to go the traditional route.  I had some fresh rosemary leftover from Thanksgiving, so I chopped that up to sprinkle over the top.

First, however, we had to give this baby a little oil.  Just a bit and spread it gently all over the top of the dough with your fingertips.

There we go.  Now the rosemary and into the oven.

If you follow this blog, you know inspiration strikes me at random times.  Partway through baking, I thought, "Hm, I should roast some garlic to put on the top".  Should I have thought of this earlier?  Probably.  Did it turn out lovely anyway?  Yes!  So you see what I did here?  Sliced garlic, a wide strip of tinfoil, a bit of olive oil, seal it up and voila!  Toss it into the oven as well.

It's so pretty!  Note how the dough shrinks a bit in baking.  That's important if you top it with an amorphous solid like cheese.  This is pizza after all.

And there's our yummy roasted garlic.

Look how yummy that looks.

But we're not done yet.  After a few bites and seeing what a great crust this makes, I decided to try dipping it.  I just poured some olive oil and balsamic vinegar into a wee dish with some salt and pepper.  Mmmmm, so great.  And I love to rip and dip!

"Oh!" I thought.  "Let's up the ante on this and smush my yummy roasted garlic into the dipping sauce!"  This just keeps on getting better and better.  Though you can see more and more of the bread disappearing with each evolution...

Finally, I went back to the pizza side and poured the rest of the dipping sauce on what was left of my half of the pizza.  Oh yeah, half of this thing is supposed to be for Mike.  Delicious again!

For Mike, because he was out playing basketball and still wouldn't be home for a bit by this point, I topped his half with some cheese and sliced pepperoni and popped it back into the oven for a bit, just long enough for the cheese to melt and everything else to get reheated.

So how did the pizza challenge go?  Better than I ever expected.  As Mike was cramming it into his face, he said to me, "I'm going to need you to make 10 more of next week.  Also, you have to make a big one for our Superbowl big as the oven."  I think that's a seal of approval if I ever heard one. :-) Don't just take Mike's word for it.  I am a professional when it comes to bread...and the Italian style.  Well, a professional in the field of eating it anyway.  Trust me.  This won't disappoint.

It's like I said last week, I might have to change me tune and stop saying I don't bake. :-)

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