Monday, March 22, 2010

Focaccia (Italian Flat Bread)

My daughter Kylie loves to get her hands into everything, especially in the kitchen. So, I decided to put her desire to touch, punch & play with her food to good use. Why not make bread? A simple foccacia recipe will let her knead & punch to her hearts content, and when it comes out of the oven, she can sprinkle on her favorite ingredients. She can truly make it her own. Plus, in the process she can learn a little about how bread rises & becomes the delicious food that we adore.

FOCACCIA (Italian flat bread)

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 envelope active dry yeast
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 large clove garlic,minced
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
Salt & pepper to taste

Step 1.
Heat milk & butter in a saucepan till butter is melted. In a large bowl mix together 1 cup flour & yeast. Gradually add milk mixture until blended. Add 3/4 cup flour to make a thick batter, then add the last cup of flour & combine with a wooden spoon to make the dough. Place the dough on a floured surface & let the kids knead it for 5-10minutes. Adding a little flour if it gets too sticky.

Step 2.
Roll dough into a ball & place in a greased bowl. Cover & let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

Step 3.
Let kids punch the dough down & then roll it into a 13x9 rectangle. Place in greased dish & cover, let rise in a warm place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Step 4.
Heat olive oil in a skillet & saute onions & garlic till slightly brown. Let cool.

Step 5.
Uncover dough & let kids sprinkle on the cooled onions & garlic. Sprinkle on salt,pepper & fresh basil. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Cut into squares & serve while still warm.

Making bread requires yeast & kneading. Kids will enjoy learning that yeast is actually thousands of microscopic living plants that are activated by warm fluids & fed by sugar & starch. That is what makes bread rise. Then you punch it down to remove excess gasses so that you can shape the dough into it's final shape before rising. Making bread is a great way to teach your child that cooking can be very scientific, not to mention fun & tasty!