This is one thing that I've vowed to change this year. I will not starve* my family in anticipation of the big meal. This will just take a little advance planning on my part. That's where simple meals like stratas, that can be prepared the evening before and left in the fridge for morning baking, come in. Or a tray full of assembled quesadillas waiting to be baked for a quick lunch. Or, believe it or not, a loaf of focaccia and bag full of pre-chopped mixed lettuce leaves to go with it.
Yeast bread? I'm sure you're wondering if I'm being serious right now. Who has time to make a yeast bread in the midst of the madness that is a holiday meal? I do. You do. Anybody does, when it's this fast focaccia! After a quick mix and knead, it gets stretched into a prepared pan. After that, it's pretty hands off. Prepare something to top it while it rises, then slide it into the oven for less than 30 minutes.
By rolling it and slicing it into ribbons, you can scatter it over the focaccia, and alongside that salad that I mentioned, present a gorgeous meal to your family. That's a bonus when all they were expecting was a bowl of cereal.
Pass the prosciutto!
Fast Focaccia with Prosciutto, Asparagus, and Shallots
Prep Time: 90 minutes (largely unattended)
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Keywords: bake bread appetizer dairy-free nut-free soy-free asparagus onions prosciutto
Ingredients (serves 6-8 / 1 loaf of focaccia)
- 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
- 1-1/4 cups lukewarm water (110° F)
- 1 heaping tablespoon sugar
- 2-2/3 cups (340 grams / 12 ounces) bread flour + more as needed
- 3-1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 4 ounces prosciutto, rolled and sliced into 1/4-inch ribbons
- 4 ounces trimmed asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1-1/4 ounces shallots, peeled & sliced into thin rings
- sea salt (Porcini or Truffle sea salt, if you have it)
- freshly ground black pepper
Combine the yeast, water, and sugar in a large bowl until the yeast blooms (looks creamy). Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour and salt until the dough comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times. The dough should be slightly sticky - flour your hands lightly to keep the dough from sticking to them, but don't let the dough become too stiff.
Flick a bit of water onto a 15"x10" (or thereabouts) rimmed baking sheet, and line it with wax or parchment paper. Pour 2-1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil onto the wax/parchment paper and spread it around with your hands. Plop the dough onto the sheet, and use your hands to gently coax and stretch it into the shape of the pan. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap over the top of the pan and let sit until the dough rises up just over the edges of the pan, 60-90 minutes.
In the meantime, toss the prosciutto, asparagus, and shallots with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and a few good pinches of salt and pepper; set aside.
When the dough has almost finished rising, preheat the oven to 400° F.
When the dough is nice and puffed up, gently push your fingertips into the length of it, leaving little dimples all over. Scatter the prosciutto mixture evenly over the top.
Slide into preheated oven and bake for about 25 minutes, or until the focaccia is golden and a bit crisp on the edges, the prosciutto is crisped, and the veggies are tender. Remove from the oven, and very carefully slide the loaf, wax paper and all, onto a wire rack to cool.
Cut into large squares or triangles and serve warm.
You could also grate some hard cheese over the top immediately after it comes out of the oven and allow it to melt. Or maybe add some goat cheese before baking.
Follow Parma Ham on Twitter for a chance to win $50 worth of the world's most famous ham. Click on the banner below to participate. This post is a collaboration between the blogger and Parma Ham.