I've been making buns off and on for years, but I tried making this amazing Focaccia Bread for the first time in early December. I had tried a similar idea a few years ago, using a loaf of frozen bread dough, but it just wasn't as tasty as homemade dough. I was going to be hosting a dinner on the 10th and decided to do a test run a week or so before the big evening to make sure that this would work. Well, I wasn't disappointed! It was absolutely delicious and my guests LOVED it! I served it with Chick Souvlaki, Tzatziki Sauce, Oven Roasted Potatoes and a Salad.
This is actually a variation of the Homemade Bun recipe that I posted last April.
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoon quick rise yeast
4 1/2 teaspoons oil
2 Tablespoons white sugar (OR 4 1/2 teaspoons liquid honey)
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups warm (not boiling) water
1 - 2 cups flour (all purpose, whole wheat flour or combo of both)
3/4 teaspoon basil
3/4 teaspoon oregano
3/4 teaspoon thyme
3/4 teaspoon parsley
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoon Parmesan cheese powder
Combine the whole wheat flour and yeast in a small bowl. In a large bowl combine the sugar/honey, oil, salt and egg till lightly beaten. Add water and stir until frothy. Slowly mix in the flour and yeast mixture. Gradually add the all purpose/whole wheat flour and mix well. As the dough becomes stiffer, knead with your hands so you can get a feel for the dough and know when it is no longer sticky. You will add about 1 - 1 1/2 cups in total.
Cover the dough with a tea towel and let rise for about an hour or until double in size (Note: the more whole wheat flour you use the longer it will take to rise.)
Combine the topping ingredients and set aside.
Spray a 10"X15" (25.4cm x 38.1 cm) baking pan with non stick cooking spray such as Pam. Punch down the dough and then place the dough on the pan. Grease your hands with a bit of margarine or a shot or two of Pam. Using your fingers and the palms of your hands, gradually spread the dough evenly over the entire pan. (Note that the dough will be a bit sticky and tend to want to shrink back towards the center, but if you keep your hands greased and keep working the dough it will cover the whole pan.) Using a fork, poke holes in the dough about an inch apart. This will help the dough to rise more evenly and not shrink back from the edges as much.
Spray the top of the dough with Pam or brush with cooking oil. Sprinkle the topping mix evenly on top. Cover the pan with a tea towel and let bread rise till almost double in size - about 45 - 55 minutes depending on room temperature and how much whole wheat flour you used.
Just before baking, use a pizza cutter or sharp knife and cut the dough into about 15 pieces - I do it so that it is 3 pieces wide and 5 pieces long. The cuts will allow for more even baking and for easier cutting after it comes out of the oven.
Bake in a 350F oven for about 15 - 18 minutes or until a light golden brown. Slide the baked bread onto a wire rack and cool for 5 - 10 minutes before serving.
The leftovers, can be wrapped in plastic wrap and kept in an air tight bag in the freezer for about 2 months.
- When spreading the dough, it is tempting to tear parts of it and work it into sides and corners, but I find that once the dough is torn, that it doesn't always want to connect with the rest of the dough and will leave gaps in your dough as it shrinks back to itself. It takes a little longer using the method I listed above, but overall it gives a better appearance and is worth the extra couple of minutes effort.
-You could use other spices in the topping depending on what you like or don't like. You could even use part of a package of ranch dressing mix or other mixes, although most of those contain additional additives and salt.
-You could add the seasoning to the dough itself, but it has a nicer flavour if left on the top.
- You could mix up a larger batch of the topping mix and label it so that it is ready whenever you make the recipe. (I would recommend a Tablespoon of each of the six seasonings and 2 Tablespoons of the cheese.)
- Try adding about 2/3 cup grated medium cheddar to the dough before adding the last of the flour. Mix a teaspoon of flour to the cheddar first, so that the cheese does not clump together.
This bread is great served with any soup, salad, chili, stew etc. It can also be sliced horizontally and filled with pretty much any sandwich fillings. I love it with ham and cheese or a tuna filling. I've also topped pieces with a bit of salsa or sliced tomatoes and sprinkled with grated mozzarella or Monterrey Jack cheeses and stuck it under the broiler till the cheese is bubbly!
Warning!!! This bread is so delicious that it is downright addictive! I'm not usually a big bread eater - except when it is fresh from the oven - but this one doesn't last long in the freezer either!!! I made this again this past Wednesday and served it with a chef's salad for my supper. I ended up eating 4 pieces before I made myself freeze the rest! I then ate another one for lunch on Thursday with a filling of ham and cheese!