While I was working, Saturday, Victor was cooking – shades of what retirement is going to be like in a couple of weeks! We’re both looking forward to this. As much as I like to cook, it will be nice not having that “5 o’clock” deadline looming when I get home.

When I walked in, the first thing I smelled was baking bread. There are not a lot of scents out there that can top that one – especially since it included fresh basil… This is not a bad way to start the weekend unwind…

The recipe comes from one of our many Lidia Bastianich cook books – Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking. They’re excellent cook books.

Focaccia Genovese

adapted from Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking.

For the focaccia:

  • 1 pkt yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cups flour
  • 2 tsp kosher salt

For the topping:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil
  • 3 tbsp grana padano, grated

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in ½ cup warm water (90 to 110 degrees F). Let the mixture sit a few minutes, until the yeast is bubbly.

Put the proofed yeast in a mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Pour in another 1½ cups warm water and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the flour, holding back about ½ cup of the total measured amount. Add the salt. Mix on low speed to combine into a wet dough. If the dough is still dry or seems tight, add up to ½ cup more warm water, a little at a time. If it seems too wet, add up to the remaining ½ cup flour, a little at a time. Knead the dough on medium speed until it is soft and springy and leaves the sides of the bowl clean, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Dump the dough on a floured counter, and knead a few times by hand to bring together into a ball. Oil a large bowl, and toss the dough to coat. Cover, and let rise until doubled in size, about

1 to 1½ hours, depending on the temperature of your room.

Punch down the dough. Oil a half sheet pan with olive oil, and dump the dough into the sheet pan. Press with your fingers to fit dough to the edges of the pan. Let rise another 30 minutes, uncovered. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Once the dough has risen, gently press indentations in the dough with your fingertips, about 1 inch apart. Bake until set, about 10 to 15 minutes, pull out of oven, and brush with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Finish baking until the focaccia is golden brown on the top and bottom, about 25 minutes in all.

While the dough finishes baking, in a bowl stir together the basil, grated cheese, and the remaining olive oil. As soon as you remove focaccia from oven, spread with the basil mixture.

Crispy exterior, light interior – the perfect bread. I made grilled cheese sandwiches with it for lunch, today.

I’m going to have fun getting used to this…

Oh… and dinner?!?

Bucatini with Clam Sauce.

Yeah… I’m spoiled…