Sometimes, though, technology can be a hindrance. Facebook has been known to cause drama between friends and exes more than once. Iphones and other smart phones seem to induce a zombie-like state in their many users. And the Kindle has taken away the magic of buying a brand new, stiff-paged, new-book-smell book. But the most tragic invention in the last 100 years is still used daily in kitchens across the world. It sits atop our counter tops, causing helpless individuals to fall victim of it's horrors. Scientist have projected that by 2050, this gadget will single-handedly cause the downfall of home cooking. So what is this toxic device? The bread machine. Since the 1980s, this gadget has turned home cooks into liars. That's right, throwing ingredients into a machine and pushing 'On' does not constitute homemade bread.
Okay, okay, I'm being a tad dramatic. But in all seriousness, bread making has become a lost art. Like any skill using your hands (gardening, painting, sculpting), it can be a tedious process, but rewarding nonetheless. There's almost something, dare I say, spiritual about bread making. Isn't it amazing that just by combining a few ingredients (which are boring and bland by themselves) working them with your hands and letting the dough rise, you eventually end up with a soft, warm, loaf of heaven? Whoever first thought to combine the right ingredients in the right proportions to form bread, is a saint.
Focaccia is my favorite bread, but I try to stay away from white breads altogether. But when the craving became too much to resist, I set out to make a whole wheat Focaccia that could stand up to it's white flour competitors. There's not much to say about this bread, except that it turned out awesome. I decided to really kick up the flavor, so I added roasted the garlic and sun dried tomatoes, along with fresh rosemary and lemon zest to add just that much more flavor. I am very pleased with this recipe, and I'm sure you'll enjoy it as well. There are several ways you can eat the Focaccia. Plain with a drizzle of olive oil or a pat of butter is delicious. My favorite: Cut the bread in half horizontally, and drizzle the halves with olive oil. Place under the broiler until slightly toasted. Remove, and top with slices of tomato and fresh mozzarella. Place under the broiler until the cheese has just melted. Or, slightly toast the focaccia and top with a poached or over-medium egg.
Whole Wheat Focaccia with Roasted Garlic, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Rosemary
Recipe adapted from 'Summertime Whole Wheat Focaccia Bread'
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 packet active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 head garlic
14 sun dried tomato halves, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
3 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp lemon zest
Black pepper to taste
Place on a baking sheet, and cover with foil. Roast in the oven for 50-60 minutes. Remove and let cool. Squeeze out the garlic from each clove.
Coat the inside of the large bowl with olive oil, place the dough in it, and roll around to coat. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel, and set aside in a dark, warm place. Let the dough rise, 30 minutes if you used quick-rise yeast, 60 if you used regular yeast.
Bake at 350 for about 30-35 minutes. The bread will feel firm to the touch, and a toothpick inserted will remove easily.