The Perfect Winter Soup Side: Dairy, Egg & Nut-Free Focaccia Bread!
It's nice and chilly outside, and if you're like me, this is the time for your favorite soup and stew recipes to shine. But... if your kids are anything like mine, I'm willing to bet that they are not always excited when soup is on the menu. Well, let me tell you something... this bread is going to CHANGE THEIR MINDS! Call it bribery (I call it kindness), but when I put a yummy bread on the table for my kids to dip into their soup, dinner takes on a whole new vibe. And, this dairy, egg and nut-free focaccia is just perfect.
This recipe is yet another gem out of the very first food allergy cookbook I ever owned, *Kelly Rudnicki's Food Allergy Mama's Baking Book. As I've mentioned before, this book absolutely changed the game for me when my oldest son was diagnosed with his allergies, and this is one of its "non-dessert" recipes that my family comes back to again and again. In fact, I love this bread so much that I've been known to bring it as the side dish for dinner with non-food allergic friends. It really is that good.
Two quick side notes:
Dry active yeast. Yes, yeast does take a little patience (and time to do it's magic - the dough will need to rise), but PLEASE don't let this part of the ingredient list stop you from giving this recipe a try. I've tried my hand at yeast breads many times, and I promise you that this is one of the easiest bread recipes you'll ever find. If you need practice, this is the perfect recipe for it.
Gluten. I want to be honest here... I have tried making this bread with gluten-free flour, and I've yet to get it exactly right. If you read this blog regularly, you know that I'm a huge proponent of getting in the kitchen and experimenting. For each mishap comes the opportunity for your biggest success, so I encourage you to try play around with a gluten-free version! I know that I certainly haven't abandoned my effort to figure it out, either (and I promise to let you know if I do).
Here's the recipe... please give it a try this winter. You'll be glad you did!
Italian Focaccia Bread
1 1/3 cups warm water
1 package of active dry yeast
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
large handful of cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
1-2 tablespoons dried rosemary, chopped
approximately 1 tablespoon kosher salt, for sprinkling (use your eye - may need to be altered)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Whisk together warm water, yeast, and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt together. Slowly mix the water/oil mixture into the dry mixture with a wooden spoon or spatula and stir until well combined. Continue to mix (or knead with your hands, which I find to be easier) for an additional two minutes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or kitchen towel and let dough rise in a warm place until it's doubled in size, approximately one hour.
Using a brush or paper towel, spread 1 tablespoon of olive oil on to the bottom of a cast iron skillet or pizza pan. Transfer dough to pan and press down until evenly distributed. Cover the dough again with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let it continue to rise for another 30 minutes or so.
Use your fingers to poke holes into the surface of the dough and drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon (or more, if desired) of olive oil on top. Sprinkle with tomatoes, rosemary and kosher salt. Bake for 20 -25 minutes, or until the top of the bread is golden. Let bread cool, then cut and serve.
*Please click here to learn more about Kelly Rudnicki's Food Allergy Mama's Baking Book cookbook.