Herbed Focaccia Bread

Our family loves Whisk, a bakery located at 2100 East Main Street in Richmond. Morgan Botwinick, pastry chef and owner, bakes everything from the Campfire Cookie (graham cracker cookie with marshmallow filling dipped in chocolate) to traditional croissants and macarons to baquettes. It is a pretty great place to grab a Happy Hour drink while your little ones get sugared up on a special treat. We were recently introduced by a friend to Earl Vallery, the Head Pastry Chef at Whisk, and quickly cooked up the idea for Earl to teach Anthony how to bake bread.  Anthony proposed babka. Earl suggested a bread more appropriate for a new baker - Herbed Focaccia. Earl's recipe is below, so you can try it home also. Thank you Whisk for inviting us in to your beautiful space. 

Herbed Focaccia Bread
Yield - 1 half-sheet pan (All measurements are by weight not volume. Get that scale out!)

Water  15 oz.
Active Dry Yeast   0.2 oz. (or 6 grams)
Bread Flour   1 lb. 8 oz.
Salt   0.5 oz.
Olive Oil   1 oz.
Dried herbs as desired - about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of any/all of the following: Thyme, basil, black pepper, red pepper flakes, oregano, rosemary, etc.

Straight dough mixing method
1. Stir yeast into room temperature water and allow to dissolve for a minute or two. Combine all other ingredients in KitchenAid mixer equipped with dough hook. Pour water into bowl with all other ingredients and mix on low for 10-12 minutes until dough passes a glutten "window test." (See picture)

2.Remove dough hook and bowl from mixer. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and drape a kitchen towel over the top. Place in a warm spot in your house for 45 minutes to an hour until dough doubles in size.
3. Punch dough to remove air and deflate. Gently stretch and fold dough in half. Place on table and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Let rest 5 minutes. 

4. Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil in a half sheet pan and spread around. Be a little generous. Place dough into pan and coat both sides with the olive oil. Gently push the dough towards the edges, moving from the center out. If the dough shrinks back too much, let it sit for minute. Be careful not to tear the dough. Be patient.

5. When the dough is stretched to fill the pan, loosely cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot in your house for about 45 minutes to an hour or until dough doubles in size. Preheat oven to 400*F and place rack on lowest rung in the oven. 
6. Remove plastic wrap and gently brush the top of the dough with olive oil. Yes, more olive oil...trust me. Sprinkle a few pinches of salt all over the top of the dough. Using your fingers spread wide, gently push the dough down in regular intervals to create a dappled effect.

7. Place the dough in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, rotating the bread halfway through.
8. Remove bread from oven. Bread should make a hallow "thud" sound when you thump it with your thumb and should be golden brown on top. It's hot, so be careful!

9. Allow to cool completely before cutting.

10. Eat and enjoy! 

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