This post has sat in drafts for a very long time. I have no clue why it took that long but all is well… Been a bit scatter brained , but that’s not unusual either. The usual activities of soccer and gymnastics and the seasonal prep of FRC begins. Maya, on the other hand has been the most unburdened of the lot as she explores the backyard like a new-found babe – after days of rain and blah weather , the sun gods decide to shine on us . You could see this gorgeous streak of black, shiny fur dashing about as she chases squirrels that have peeped our after a couple of weeks. And she makes the most of it. Streaking about or snoozing in the sun. She does make me en her sometimes ! Abundant energy and abundant love .. always .
Gorgeous day and I realize, I have about a dozen drafts – nope, honest not kidding, atleast a dozen drafts sitting in the folder waiting for their turn in the sun. And I shall oblige to the best of my ability.
Been to Panera bread? It’s like this secret joint for all bread lovers to unite . Much before the active baking bug bit me ( quite honestly it has not been too long, but lets just say for timeframe sake barely 18 months or so) their neatly arranges loaves of bread and near tumbling brown fresh-baked ones from the basket were so inviting and tempting for me. Almost irresistible that I would inevitably come home with a couple at least. Well they are now too, albeit now, I use my discretionary powers and bring a couple more of the new ones as well to try their flavors. LOL! One of their creations would be this Jalapeño cheese focaccia bread – a tiny piece of marvel with generous pepping of fresh jalapeño peppers. Yum – O ! It’s like a sirens call for A1. He could never resist it and could polish a couple if not for mom’s “look”.
Been wanting to try something akin to that one for sometime , and also wanted to incorporate fresh garden grown herbs in it. While I believe this was originally baked way back in early 2014 when I was starting out to look at yeast and not turn the other way ( been in the drafts folder too long ), baked it a couple quite a few times after that with ever pleasing results !
And here we go….
Prep time : 20 min
Dough resting time : 60 – 75 min + additional 25 min
Bake time : 25-30 min
- White whole wheat flour : 2 cups
- All purpose flour : 1 and 1/4 cups
- Brown sugar : 1 and 1/2 tsp.
- Salt : 1 and 1/4 tsp.
- Garlic salt : 1/4 tsp. ( optional, but recommended)
- Instant yeast : 2.25 teaspoon/ 1 sachet
- Olive oil : 2 Tbsp.
- Very warm water : 1 and 1/4 cup
- Fresh garlic cloves : 8-10
- Fresh mint : About 1/4 cup of leaves
- Fresh Cilantro : 1/4 cup of cilantro
- Jalapeño Peppers, green fresh : 2 – 3 big
- Red chili flakes : 1 and 1/4 tsp.
- Olive oil : 3 Tbsp.
Preparing the Dough:
- If using a stand mixer, I initially like to attach the paddle attachment and mix everything and then switch to the dough hook for kneading.
- Add both the flours, salt and sugar and whisk well. Add the dry instant yeast (Since we are using the dry instant kind, we do not need to activate it. However if you are unsure, then proof the yeast in the warm water with sugar.)
- Add the 2 Tbsp. of olive oil, then the very warm water and mix it well.
- Switch to the dough hook and now knead it very well till you get a smooth dough. The dough is very soft and smooth. Not overtly sticky. If required add a tbsp. or so of extra APF to bring it to the desired smooth consistency.
- Oil/ Grease a container . Cover the dough and let it rest in a warm place until it doubles in size ( 60-75 min). I simply spray the container of my mixing bowl and let it rise in it.
(Tip : During winter times/ colder weather , turn on the oven initially for a few min. When it hits a temp of say 150 F, turn it off. Once you knead the dough, place it in the warm oven for about an hour. It will help in making the dough rise faster.)
Preparing the Herb, Jalapeno Pepper & Garlic Spread:
- In a toaster oven, line a baking tray with aluminum foil . Arrange the cloves of garlic and jalapeño and drizzle about a 1 Tbsp. of oil and roast it on high. Mine hit the maximum at 450 F, so I used that setting for about 8 min or so.
- You want these roasted well and not blackened, so do keep an eye out and prep according to the toaster oven.
- Let this cool for a bit. Add these along with the fresh herb mix and remaining 2 Tbsp. of oil, pulverize in a food processor / blender to from a coarse paste.
- Add the chili flakes, mix, scoop and set aside. This will form the top layering for the bread.
Prep and Baking:
- In about 60 min or so, the dough would have doubled in size. Gently deflate it.
- Prepare a heavy baking tray by lining it with baking sheet or parchment paper. Generously mist/ spray/layer it with olive oil.
- Dump the deflated dough onto it. Using your hands work it to form a nice rectangle / oval, about an inch or so in thickness.
- Cover it so it is prepped for the second rise where it will rise a bit more for about 25 – 30 minutes to yield a slightly puffy look.
- Meanwhile preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Once the dough is ready, using 2 fingers gently poke all over the surface of the bread. You are forming indentations and not tearing the bread dough apart.
- Using a pastry brush if desired, spread the herb, and spicy pepper mix on the surface.
- Bake for about 25 – 30 minutes or until it is nice golden brown on the top. Do not over bake please.
- Serve warm bread with a drizzle of olive oil /herb oil. Best eaten warm.
Go ahead, the focaccia bread is warm , inviting and I bet it’s a siren’s call for you too.