One of my culinary heroes is the Earl of Sandwich. A guy who, off the cuff, created what is in my opinion, the most profound culinary delight of all time, the sandwich. Were there other similar creations throughout the world in different countries and cultures? Probably, but I’m sticking with Lord Sandwich.
My family will tell you all I eat are sandwiches when I’m home. When I’m home late, I’ll put the leftovers, doesn’t matter what they are, in bread and eat it. Sometimes I warm it up, sometimes I don’t, depending on how hard my night was. What makes a sandwich so wonderful is that you can make a it of virtually anything. One of the best sandwiches I ever had was mayo, lettuce and two warm, crispy potato-zucchini pancakes. Each individual ingredient must be stellar, as should the bread. You can get great fresh bread all over, but sometimes it’s a little more special when you’ve made the bread yourself.
For Christmas last year, my wife wanted a bread machine. I was very excited at the prospect of having fresh, homemade bready daily for my never-ending stream of sandwich meals. The first few breads were barely edible. Being familiar with the way kitchen equipment works, I figured it would take some time to get the process perfected. Two months later, still no good bread, I was patient but I think my wife gave up. Now the bread maker is where I get my mail every evening. You win this time Cuisinart. All though I will say, it is a great letter holder…
Here is a recipe for a very simple foccacia. I’ve done this one with caramelized onions and rosemary, but you can flavor it in any way you like. If you are thinking of making a specific sandwich, why not have the bread flavored to complement the creation. I was using this foccacia for a Roast Beef and Swiss with Roast Red Peppers, Greens and Pesto Mayo…yeah, it was as good as it sounds (photo at the end of the post!).
Makes enough dough to cover an 18” x 13” baking pan
6 cups AP Flour
1 oz. active dry yeast
2 ½ cups water, very warm
¼ cup honey
1 ½ tsp salt, more for topping if you wish
¼ cup olive oil + more for proofing
1 small yellow onion, julienned and caramelized
2 Tbs. fresh rosemary, minced
1. Preheat your oven to 425°.
2. Combine the water, honey and yeast in a kitchen Aid mixing bowl. Stir well.
3. Allow the yeast to bloom 5-8 minutes. It should begin to look foamy.
4. Add the flour, salt, rosemary and olive oil.
5. Mix on medium low speed until the dough starts to come together. It should be slightly tacky but not wet. Add a touch more flour if needed.
6. Lightly oil the sheet tray with a little more olive oil.
7. Stretch the dough out until it mostly covers the sheet pan.
8. Rub the top of the dough with a little more olive oil.
9. Top with the caramelized onions, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place about 30 minutes.
10. Remove the plastic and, using your fingers, press holes halfway into the dough.
11. Allow the dough to rise for another 10 minutes uncovered.
12. Bake at 425° until golden brown, 15-20 minutes.
13. Pay attention in case you need to rotate the foccacia while cooking.
14. Remove from heat and allow to cool in the pan.
15. Gently, turn the foccacia over on its top side and allow the bottom to release its steam so it doesn’t get soggy.
16. Turn the bread back over and portion. Can easily be frozen for up to 2 weeks.
Instead of baking the foccacia in a sheet, if your feeling adventurous, go ahead and form the dough into 5 oz balls to make foccacia buns! Proof and bake the same way.