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CIAO BELLA FOCACCIA

Ingredients

1 ¾ cups warm water (115-120 degrees)

1 tablespoon honey

1, ¼-ounce packet active dry yeast

2 tablespoons Dish off the Block Ciao Bella Italian Spice Blend

3 tablespoons garlic cloves, peeled and chopped fine

1 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 tablespoon salt

5-5 ¼ cups flour

2-3 teaspoons sea or rock salt

Instructions

Combine the warm water and honey in the bowl of a stand mixer and stir with a spoon to dissolve the honey.  Pour the yeast over the top and let sit for 5 minutes until foamy (while you chop the rosemary and garlic).

Add the Italian seasoning, garlic, ½ cup of the olive oil, and the 1 tablespoon salt to the bowl and quickly mix to combine.  Gradually add 4 ½ cups of the flour and mix until a dough begins to form a ball.  Add an additional half cup as needed until the dough releases from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball.

Dump the dough onto a lightly floured countertop and knead for 5-6 minutes, adding as much of the remaining flour as necessary to create a smooth and elastic dough that bounces back when you poke your finger into it.

Place in a bowl that has been oiled with 1 tablespoon olive oil and turn to coat.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let it rise for 1 hour.

Punch the dough down and knead briefly on a lightly floured countertop.

Place ¼ cup of the olive oil into a 10” x 15” (or similar size) jelly roll pan or sheet pan with sides.  Tilt the pan to evenly distribute the oil.  Work the dough on the countertop, stretching and pushing with your fingertips into a size similar to the pan.  Transfer the dough to the pan and push and stretch to fit the pan in one even thickness.  Then flip over to coat the other side in olive oil and, again stretch to fit the pan in an evenly thick layer.

Using the end of a wooden spoon, make holes that go through the dough to the bottom of the pan in 2-3” intervals.  This will give the dough the classic ‘dimples’ you see in focaccia bread after it rises again.

Cover again with the kitchen towel and let rise for another hour.*  Drizzle all over with the remaining ¼ cup of olive oil and sprinkle with the sea salt.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Bake the focaccia for 30-35 minutes until golden brown and fluffy in the center.  Chow down!

*Optional – after the second rise and before baking, you can decorate the top of the bread with vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes, onions, asparagus, carrots, herbs, beans, etc…  Get creative!

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