Sunday, October 30, 2011

Olive & Feta Cheese Focaccia

Please do not mind the ugliness of the baking sheet I laid the foil on top of before I transferred them to a pizza stone. It's a very old hand-me-down.

Okay, part of the recipe calls for flour (obviously). You can either use the following flour-blend recipe, or you can buy a box of pre-made gluten-free flour blend. However, you get more for your money this way. 

Gluten-free flour blend (can be doubled, tripled, whatever you want):
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 cup sorghum flour
  • 3/4 cup millet flour (can substitute with chickpea flour)
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup instant, unflavored mashed potato flakes (I didn't have any, so I used 1/3 cup almond flour instead)
Mix all of these ingredients together. It helps to use a whisk. 
Store it in an airtight container. 

The following recipe is adapted from The Gluten-Free Bible.

Ingredients (for bread/dough):
  • 3 cups Gluten-Free Flour Blend 
  • 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
Ingredients (for toppings):
  • 1/2 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives 
  • 1/2 cup chopped pitted castelvetrano olives (whole green)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves (recipe calls for 3, but that ends up being a LOT)
  • 2 tablespoons thyme 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese 
  • Recipe says fresh rosemary and thyme; I had them only in canisters, but it seemed to make no difference. 
  • Recipe calls for Romano cheese; I had none, so I used feta cheese. I loved the flavor the feta contributed. 
  • Don't add any extra salt with toppings. Trust me. The olives and feta cheese are already pretty salty. Adding more salt is even too much for someone who's a salt-a-holic like me.  
  1. Combine flour blend, yeast, xanthan gum, and salt in large mixing bowl. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together 1 cup warm water, oil, egg whites, honey, and vinegar. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients with your electric mixer. Mix at a low to medium speed. You'll need to scrape the bottom and sides periodically to ensure all of the dry ingredients are mixing. Batter should be smooth, shiny, and thick. The recipe doesn't give this information, but gluten-free batters are almost always super sticky. Don't be alarmed; it's perfectly normal even if it is messy and mildly frustrating. 
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Line large baking sheet with foil/parchment paper. (I just put a two-foot piece of foil on the counter, sprayed it with some PAM, divided the dough into two pieces, and put the pieces of dough on the foil. You want to end up with two flattened dough pieces, 8-inch round and 1/2 inch thick. NOTE: You might want to use gloves if you dislike getting really sticky dough all over your fingers. 
  3. Let the dough rest for 20-25 minutes. Dimple top of dough with fingertips (because the mixture is stickier than they want you to believe, my dimples looked a little more like odd craters; I achieved the same result, so whatever.) 
  4. Mix the toppings together in a small bowl to ensure even distribution.
  5. Drizzle oil over the dough. Sprinkle with pepper.
  6. Sprinkle dough with the toppings. Drizzle oil over top of everything.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes (I didn't use a baking sheet; I used a pizza stone.) or until lightly browned on the top AND bottom. 
  8. Sprinkle with cheese. Cool for 3-5 minutes on a wire rack before you cut the pieces.
  9. Enjoy :) 
This recipe would make for a great Thanksgiving appetizer! Just cut up the two focaccia breads into smaller, bite-sized pieces and serve them on appetizer plates or a pretty tray.

By the way, Jeff is quite the picky one, who usually responds to my creations with "yeah, it's pretty good," and then he proceeds to eat two helpings and all of the leftovers. This time, however, his eyes lit up with the first bite, and he said (between munching noises), "MMM, this is reeeally good." There were no leftovers on his plate. Success.

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