Monday, September 22, 2008

Tomato and 'Parmesan' Focaccia with Caramelized Onions

I promise this is the last time I'm going to knead bread dough for a while! I just have an extra packet of yeast, so I thought this focaccia recipe would be fun.

To make the dough, combine one cup warm water (check that the temp is between 100 and 110 degrees), 2 tablespoons olive oil, a teaspoon raw sugar, and one packet (2 1/4 tsps.) of yeast, stirring until the yeast dissolves. Let stand 5 minutes. (Boy did the yeast look yucky, congregating toward the middle as it separated from the oil! But this is normal, so don't be alarmed).

Stir in 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned into measuring cups and leveled with a knife), along with 1/4 cup of cornmeal and one teaspoon salt. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for ten minutes (if you follow this blog, you know the drill by now - punch down, fold over, quarter-turn, repeat!), adding up to 1/4 cup more flour a little at a time so the dough doesn't stick to your hands.

Place in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat the top; cover and let rise an hour and a half until doubled in size (note: this took me about twenty minutes less). Then punch the dough down, cover, and let rest five minutes.

During that first rise, caramelize the onions: heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 cups thinly sliced yellow onion, a teaspoon dried basil, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Cook for twenty minutes until the onions are golden brown, stirring occasionally. Let cool.

Now pat the dough into an even layer on a 15x10 inch baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise again, this time for 30 minutes.

During the second rise, place 12 (1/8-inch thick) slices of tomatoes between several layers of paper towels. Let stand 20 minutes, pressing down occasionally. This is also a good time to think about preheating the oven.

Uncover the dough and top evenly with the onion mixture, leaving a 1/2 inch border. Top with the tomato slices and sprinkle with 1/3 cup shredded vegan cheese - the original called for Parmesan but try the vegan mozzarella block from Galaxy Foods.

Bake at 425 degrees for 23 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and sprinkle with 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil. Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving. Cut into 16 slices of 140 calories each.

A couple interesting notes: the original version of this recipe would have been vegan, with the one exception of raw sugar versus refined sugar. Indeed, it's probably pretty safe to eat focaccia in most restaurants, although I do advise checking that there's no butter involved on the topping or the sauteeing of any vegetables in the topping.

Also, I looked up focaccia on Wikipedia on a whim, and discovered that this flat bread goes back to ancient Roman times - named panis focacius meaning "center" which is where the fireplace was located. It remains extremely popular in Italy, and the base is very similar to pizza dough, but does not meet the definition of a pizza. A little bit of history with your bread!

all-purpose flour $4.49
yellow onion $1.89
tomato $2.54
basil $2.99

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The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy
  • Vegan milk - Silk
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance