Bread baking is one of my favorite things to do and focaccia is one of my favorites. I’m encouraged by Mike who seems to love any bread I make – even first attempts that aren’t perfected. While Focaccia is usually made with all white flour or some semolina, I’ve added whole wheat flour to the mix to up the flavor. The raisins and cranberries add a touch of tangy sweetness. The big thing with this bread is the oil used at the end. Because it uses a lot of oil, use an olive oil you favor or if you want no added taste from the oil, use canola oil. Don’t be tempted to stint on the oil. One of my variations, cut the oil in half and the bread stuck so badly I couldn’t get it out of the pan. However, Mike ate it by handfuls! Loyalty is a wonderful thing.
This bread takes a lot of rising time but the actual work time is minimal. After the last rise the dough can be refrigerated until the next day if desired.
The raisins and cranberries should be moist, not leather like. They can be soaked in hot water if really dry and drained but Trader Joe’s, www.traderjoes.com has great dried fruit which is moist.
The chicken salad is so simple proving simple is often the best. Instead of poaching the chicken, it is baked so it doesn’t get water logged and loosen the dressing. By loosely enclosing the chicken in foil, it will not dry out while baking. The time will depend upon the size of the chicken breasts. A little celery added to the cut up chicken is dressed with a combination of mayonnaise and sour cream. Low fat versions of both of these may be used. Salt and white pepper finish this simplest of chicken salads.
Whole Wheat Cranberry Raisin Focaccia
1 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 7/8 cup warm water
1 3/4 cup bread flour (9 oz. or 255 grams)
1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour (9 oz. or 255 grams)
2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup moist raisins
1/2 cup moist cranberries
1/2 cup oil, olive or canola
Place the bowl on the mixer which has been fitted with the dough hook and add the salt. Mix the dough on low for 3 minutes. Add the fruit and mix another 2 minutes. At the end of 5 minutes, raise the the mixer to medium and beat another 30 seconds.
With a bowl scraper, turn the dough out on a well floured surface. Pat the dough out into a rectangle and fold the left side to the center, deflating the dough. Brush off flour. Fold the right side to the center, again brushing off the flour. Fold the bottom up to the center and the top down to the center. Flip the dough over and place in a oiled or sprayed bowl. Cover and allow to rise for about an hour.
Repeat the folding and rising one more time. After this rise, the dough may be, covered and refrigerated overnight or shaped immediately.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Pour the oil in a 9×13 inch baking pan. Place the dough in the pan and flatten it out. Immediately, flip the dough so both sides are oiled. Push and pat the dough out to fill the pan as much as possible. Cover the dough with plastic film and set it aside for about 10 to 15 minutes. With the film in place, push the dough out to fill the pan. Let rise for about 30 minutes. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until medium brown.
Place a rack on a cookie sheet and transfer baked focaccia to the rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray it.
Serve with focaccia.