Fermentation and Breads
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When we think of fermenting foods, what comes to mind are things like pickles, yoghurt, or sauerkraut. But did you know that fermentation is an important part of making bread fluffy?
To help many breads rise, yeast is used in the process. Dry yeast is activated in warm water. Once it is active, it needs sugars to feed off, to create a by-product of carbon dioxide. When combined with other ingredients, the dough will rise as the yeast releases a byproduct of carbon dioxide. Check out this delicious recipe for Rosemary Focaccia Bread!
Rosemary Focaccia Bread
1⅓ cup warm water (about 110°F)
2 teaspoons sugar or honey
1 package active-dry yeast
3½ cups all purpose flour
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons flaky sea salt
2 sprigs free rosemary
- Add warm water (about 110°F, which you can measure with a thermometer if you want to be sure it’s the right temp) and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough attachment, and stir to combine. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water. Give the yeast a quick stir to mix it in with the water. Then let it sit for 5-10 minute until the yeast is foamy.
- Set the mixer to low speed, and add gradually flour, olive oil and salt. Increase speed to medium-low, and continue mixing the dough for 5 minutes. (If the dough is too sticky and isn’t pulling away from the sides of the bowl, add in an extra 1/4 cup flour while it is mixing.)
- Remove dough from the mixing bowl, and use your hands to shape it into a ball. Grease the mixing bowl (or a separate bowl) with olive oil or cooking spray, then place the dough ball back in the bowl and cover it with a damp towel. Place in a warm location (I set mine by a sunny window) and let the dough rise for 45-60 minutes, or until it has nearly doubled in size.
- Turn the dough onto a floured surface, and roll it out into a large circle or rectangle until that the dough is about 1/2-inch thick*. Cover the dough again with the damp towel, and let the dough continue to rise for another 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Transfer the dough to a large parchment-covered baking sheet (or press it into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish). Use your fingers to poke deep dents (seriously, poke all the way down to the baking sheet!) all over the surface of the dough. Drizzle a tablespoon or two of olive oil evenly all over the top of the dough, and sprinkle evenly with the fresh rosemary needles and sea salt.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until the dough is slightly golden and cooked through.
- Serve. Remove from the oven, and drizzle with a little more olive oil if desired. Slice, and serve warm!