Stuffed Focaccia

As readers of this blog know, I really like focaccia bread. I’ve got recipes HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE. The difference here is I’m using sponge to start things off.

This is a stuffed focaccia with sausage, onions and peppers plus cheese because who doesn’t like all of those things? Especially together and with a yummy bread packaging. I can totally see making this again for a Super bowl or World Cup party.

Not only does the entire house smell wonderful from the yeasty bread baking but it tastes awesome. Meaty, with gooey cheese and such a delicious focaccia. Think of this like a cheesesteak muffuletta.

It works best if you have a springform pan as the sides could blow up if left on its own and it would be hard to get out of any other kind of pan. I used a 9 inch one but, if making for a crowd, go for a slightly larger one and make this thinner to eat as a snack instead of a meal.

Plan your time as this takes three rises, not counting the sponge time. That’s once during the dough cycle on the machine, once in a warm place to double and then the final before baking.

Sausage and Cheese Stuffed Focaccia

Sponge:

½ teaspoon instant/active yeast
3/4 cup unbleached bread flour
½ cup warm water

Dough:

1 cup water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon instant/active yeast
1 teaspoon ground rosemary
3 ¼ cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 teaspoons coarse salt

Meat and Cheese Stuffing:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound of sausage (I used German Sausage removed from their casing)
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, sliced very thin
1 bell pepper, diced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ cup Provolone (or any good melty cheese – mozzarella, monteray jack, cheddar) cheese, grated

Topping:

Coarse salt
fresh chopped rosemary
olive oil

For the Sponge: Whisk to combine yeast and flour. Add the water to and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for at least two hours and as long as overnight.

After the sponge has developed, place it in a bread machine. Add the water, olive oil, yeast, rosemary, flour and salt in the order suggested and set it for the dough cycle. Once the dough has risen in the machine, remove and place in a well-oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover with a towel and let sit in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about an hour and a half.

Prepare the stuffing while the dough rises, as you want it to come to room temperature before placing it in the dough.

Remove the sausage from its casing and brown with the olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Drain and remove from the pan. Wipe out the pan, leaving 1 tablespoon of fat. Melt the butter and sauté the onion for about 10-15 minutes or until golden. Add in the bell pepper and season with the salt and pepper and the garlic. Sauté until the garlic is fragrant and then remove from the heat. Add the onions to the sausage and set aside. Do not refrigerate.

After the dough has risen, punch it down and divide in half. Lightly grease bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with olive oil. Stretch half of the dough into a disc and place in the bottom of the pan. Press it out to the sides. Toss the sausage and onions with the cheese. Spoon the mixture into pan, leaving about a finger width border around the sides. Stretch the other piece of dough into a disc and place on top of stuffing. Cover with towel and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 F degrees.

Just before baking, drizzle olive oil over the dough and sprinkle with coarse salt. Add a sprinkling of fresh chopped rosemary. Dimple the top of the dough with your fingers, leaving indentations.

Bake for 30 – 35 minutes until the top is deep golden brown. To serve, slice into wedges and eat like a sandwich.

This stuffed bread is great the next day, too. Simply place leftover on a pan in the oven at 375 and bake for about 15 minutes, or until warmed through.

Corny Corn Muffins

I’ve been working on my corn muffin recipe – I needed something a little less cakey, so I tweaked a cornbread recipe I saw on America’s Test Kitchen. I’m not a real fan of sweet cornbread, so I reduced the sugar in the recipe – they used a ¼ cup! I also upped the frozen (and thawed) corn and, therefore, upped the salt slightly as well.

These were perfect little bites of corny cornbread and, while they were excellent warm with a glass of milk, I can’t wait to have them with the Senate bean soup I have in the slow cooker.

Whatever you don’t eat up right away with a bowl of soup or with some beans, you can freeze and then crumble the leftovers to make a terrific cornbread dressing that works as a side with pork, chicken and, even, turkey. I posted a recipe HERE with my cornbread stick recipe.

Corny Corn Muffins

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup corn kernels – frozen is fine but thaw first
1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 stick butter, melted

Whisk together all of the dry ingredients. Place the corn in a blender and puree. Add the brown sugar, buttermilk and eggs to the blender and blend them up. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just mixed. Gently fold in the melted and cooled butter.

Butter a 12 cup muffin tin. Place ¼ cup of batter in each space. Smooth the top with your fingertips. Bake in a preheated 400 degrees F oven for 22-25 minutes. Tops will be golden brown. Remove the muffins to a wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving.

 

Overnight Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

When I think of having cinnamon rolls in the morning, I find myself dreaming of Alton Brown’s Overnight Cinnamon Rolls. You’ve got to wait for satisfaction, though. I gotta say the flavor of the rolls is great after the long, slow rise.

I do have a couple of quibbles, though. There are no pecans in the original and he makes way more than I usually want to make at any given time. Therefore, here is the fixed and halved recipe.

Before frosting

The recipe should have made about 6 large buns. Not paying attention, I was cutting each section in half and before I knew it, I had 8 rolls plus two ends that I merged together to get a final bun. Still plenty of cinnamon pecan rolls for a family.

I also added Grand Marnier to the icing for a hint of orange and to cut the sweet.

Rewarm the next day in the microwave for about 15 seconds.

Overnight Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

Dough
2 large egg yolks
1 whole egg
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 ounces buttermilk
2 cups all purpose flour, plus additional for dusting
1 1/8 teaspoon yeast
1 1/8 teaspoon salt

Filling
½ cup brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup toasted pecans, chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Icing
2 ounces cream cheese
1 ½ tablespoons milk
3/4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon Grand Marnier liquor

In the bowl of a stand mixer whisk together the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter, and buttermilk. Add 1 cups of the flour along with the yeast and salt; mix until moistened and combined. Switch to the dough hook attachment. Add another cup of the flour and knead on low speed for 5 minutes. Check the consistency of the dough, add more flour if necessary; the dough should feel soft and moist but not sticky. Knead on low speed 5 minutes more or until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead by hand about 30 seconds. Lightly oil a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl, lightly oil the top of the dough, cover and let double in volume, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Combine the filling ingredients of brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and pecans in a medium bowl. Mix until well incorporated. Set aside until ready to use.

Butter a 8×8-inch glass baking dish. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently shape the dough into a rectangle with the long side nearest you. Roll into an 12 by 6-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with the melted butter, leaving 1/2-inch border along the top edge. Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch border along the top edge. Gently press the filling into the dough.

Beginning with the long edge nearest you, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Firmly pinch the seam to seal and roll the cylinder seam side down. Very gently squeeze the cylinder to create even thickness. Using a serrated knife, slice the cylinder into 1 1/2-inch rolls; yielding 8 rolls. Arrange rolls cut side down in the baking dish; cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight or up to 16 hours.

Remove the rolls from the refrigerator and place in a cold oven with the light on. Fill a shallow pan 2/3-full of boiling water and set on the rack below the rolls. Close the oven door and let the rolls rise until they look slightly puffy; approximately 30 minutes. Remove the rolls and the shallow pan of water from the oven.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

When the oven had come to temperature, place the pan of rolls on the middle rack and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.

While the rolls are cooling slightly, make the icing by whisking the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy. Add the milk and whisk until combined. Sift in the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth. Stir in the Grand Marnier until combined. Spread over the rolls and serve immediately.

Basic Overnight Sponge Started Bread

I enjoyed the flavors of the the ciabatta bread so much, I’ve decided that it is time to make more use of starters (called sponge or biga). I got burned out on keeping and maintaining my sourdough starter last winter (although I enjoyed eating my creations), so now I’m just taking the basic overnight starter from James Beard’s Beard on Bread.

You’ll be rewarded for your patience with great flavored bread.

Basic Sponge Started Bread

Starter Sponge
¼ cup lukewarm water
2 ¼  teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup bread flour
3/4 cup water

Dough
¼ cup lukewarm water
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons salt

Proof the yeast in the lukewarm water for about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and the rest of the water to make a fairly loose dough. Cover with plastic wrap and leave on the counter for 4 hours, then put in the refrigerator overnight.

Pull the starter sponge out of the fridge and let rest on the counter for a couple hours. Put in the bread machine with the remaining water and flour, oil and salt. Select dough or manual cycle. Leave the top of the machine up, and watch as the dough forms. Add more flour or more water a tablespoon at a time, if needed for the dough to come together. Put the top down and let the machine continue to mix, knead and complete one rise.

Punch the dough down and shape into a rectangle. Roll from the long side and pinch the seam together with your fingers. Leave the loaf on the work surface and cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees with a baking stone on the lower rack. Stretch the loaf gently and place it on a peel or baking sheet for transferring into the oven Sprinkle the loaf lightly with flour. Cover again and let rise 30 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut three diagonal slashes about 3/4-inch deep across the top of the loaf.

Spritz water into the oven with a mister, and place the bread in the oven. Reduce the heat to 425°F and bake about 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool 15 minutes before cutting.

Store bread, loosely wrapped in paper, for a couple of days at room temperature; wrap it in plastic and freeze for longer storage.

Bread Machine Ciabatta

I’ve been watching past seasons of the Great British Baking Show and was interested in Paul’s Ciabatta challenge. He gloats about how hard it is, so I had to try my hand at it. Afterwards, I was impressed at how delicious the bread was but I’m not sure I have the patience to make it regularly.

When going online to see some other recipes, most everyone used a sponge or biga as a starter. I started around 7:30pm to make the dough and I left it overnight for the yeast to go through a few generations and give lots of flavor to the final loaf. It needs a minimum of 12 hours but no more than 24 on the counter. If you can’t get to it in 24 hours, place it in the fridge for up to 3 days, being sure to bring it back to room temperature before starting the next step.

Shaping it can be messy because the dough is so wet and sticky. The trick is to proof it in something that will give in the shape you basically want the loaves to be. I used a 2 quart plastic container I normally fill with cookies.

For a crunchy crust, you need to spray the loaf with water after you’ve placed it in the oven and then again in the first five minutes.

With this recipe, at the end of about 16 hours, you end up with four sandwich loaves of delicious bread.

Bread Machine Ciabatta

Sponge:
¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup all purpose flour
½ cup water

Dough:
½ cup water
¼ cup whole milk
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon active dry yeast

flour or cornmeal for dusting

In a stand mixer, add all the ingredients for the sponge. Mix on low for five minutes. Cover and let stand on the counter for 12-24 hours.

After at least 12 hours, scrape the foamy sponge into your bread machine. Add the rest of the ingredients in the order listed. Start the dough cycle. After about 10 minutes, check the dough. If it looks like pancake batter, add a tablespoon of flour at a time until it comes together and looks sticky. If it looks dry and shaggy, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until it looks sticky. Let the machine continue until the kneading cycle stops.

Liberally oil a rectangle plastic container (don’t forget to oil the lid). With your super greasy hands, remove the dough from the bread machine and place it in the container. Turn it so all sides are coated with the oil. Drizzle some oil around the sides of the container so it stays oiled as it rises. Close the lid and proof for at least 2 hours at room temperature or until tripled in size. If you’re using a 2 quart container the risen dough will fill it.

When fully proofed, remove dough by flipping the container upside down onto a very well floured surface. The dough should be in the same general shape of the container it was proofed in. Don’t punch down the dough.

Sprinkle dough with flour and/or corn meal. Cut dough in half down the length with a greased knife and then cut each of those in half. With floured hands, carefully transfer the loaves to a parchment lined baking sheet which has been sprinkled with flour and/or cornmeal. Carefully straighten and clean up the shape with your hands.

Let the loaves rest for 45 minutes. At the end of that time, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. If you have a baking stone, place it in the oven while it preheats.

Spray loaves lightly with water before sliding them off the baking sheet by the parchment paper and onto the baking stone. If you don’t have a baking stone, just put the baking sheet  into the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Spray loaves again 5 minutes into the baking time. The loaves are done when they are golden-brown and sound hollow when tapped on the base. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

Bread Machine Focaccia

I’m enjoying the bread machine Michelle’s mother gave me and put in the ingredients for focaccia dough before an English Premier League soccer game started so I could start baking once the game was over.

The big thing about using the machine is keeping the yeast away from the liquid and salt (no pre-proofing). I first put in liquids (water, olive oil), then the dry ingredients (salt, flour, herbs) and, finally, the yeast in last. If I was adding chopped olives, I would add them in about 15 minutes into the dough cycle or use the raisin bread cycle.

I don’t use bread machine/rapid rise yeast. Because rapid rise/bread machine yeast rises faster, sometimes there could be a difference in the final product if using active dry yeast, but that can be fixed with giving the dough another rise period. Bread machine yeast only needs one rise before it is good to go. Fresh yeast should just be crumbled on the top and it will also require two rises.

This makes a slightly thicker loaf than my other focaccia recipes and is perfect for sandwiches.

Bread Machine Focaccia

1 cup warm water
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried, ground rosemary
3 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
coarse grey salt

Place water, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, garlic, 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon ground, bread flour and yeast in the pan of the bread machine in the order listed. Select Dough cycle; press Start.

Remove dough from bread machine when cycle is complete. Well oil a 9×13 pan and pat dough into pan. Use your fingers to dimple the dough every inch or so. Brush with remaining olive oil and sprinkle with remaining rosemary. Sprinkle coarse salt over the top.

Cover focaccia with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 30 minutes before preheating oven. If using active dry yeast, you may need to let it rise for 1 hour or until almost doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Updated Cornbread Sticks Recipe Plus Cornbread Dressing

After a long day of prepping my house for termite fumigation, I was craving cornbread. We had a gallon bag of corn on cobs from the freezer that Michelle needed to cut off, so I got her to give me about a cup of the kernels. I then pulled down the cast iron cornbread stick pans and started making cornbread.

Soften some unsalted butter as the cornbread cooks, to make slathering it on super easy.

We ate our fill and plan to use the leftovers in a batch of cornbread dressing – that recipe follows the one for cornbread sticks.

Cornbread Sticks

1 cup yellow corn meal
1 cup all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup corn kernels (from frozen is fine)
1 egg
1 cup of milk
1/4 cup Crisco shortening

Pinch off pieces of the shortening and place dollops in each slot on the cast iron cornbread stick pans. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F with the pans in the oven, melting the shortening.

Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Beat the egg into the cup of milk. Stir together the corn kernels and milk mixture, then add the dry ingredients and stir until all the dry streaks are gone. Pour the melted shortening into the batter. Stir to combine

Use a spoon to divided the batter into each of the corn sticks slots in the pans and bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pans midway through cooking. Tops will be golden brown. Immediately remove from pans to cool.

Cornbread dressing is the second best way to eat leftover cornbread. The first way is to crumble it in a glass of cold milk and eat it with a spoon!

I usually put any leftover cornbread in the freezer as it takes a few pans before I have enough for a recipe for dressing.

Very flavorful and colorful.

Cornbread Dressing

2 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons pecans, toasted and chopped fine
6-8 cornbread sticks or 4 cornbread pieces, crumbled
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs like thyme or sage, 4 to 5 sprigs

Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium high heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil. When oil shimmers, add the celery, onions, peppers, garlic and pecans. Cook 5 minutes then crumble cornbread into the skillet and combine with vegetables. Dampen the dressing with stock, you may not need the full cup. Season with fresh herbs, we used thyme. Reduce heat to low and keep warm until ready to serve.

I like crunchy dressing, so after the meal I take any leftovers and form patties. Freeze them and then thaw them for a bit on the counter before warming them in a 350 degree F oven for about 30 minutes.

Yummy! A quick side dish for most any protein.