The Focaccia Bread that Ruined Everything

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First available in the September issue of the Tiny House Magazine.

My Austrian husband makes bread about once a week. He doesn’t use a recipe, and I haven’t been able to tell if it’s because he has a memorized recipe tucked away in his brain, or if he really is just making it up as he goes along… either way, fresh European crusty bread appeared around here each Tuesday, or did. Until this focaccia bread ruined everything.

focaccia

pinterest 1This recipe is pretty simple and requires only a bowl and wooden spoon and a cast iron skillet, and a bit of space on the counter for kneading the bread, which makes it ideal for a tiny house kitchen.

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon basil

Pinch black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

3/4 cup warm water (110 degrees)

2 tablespoons olive oil

4-5 cloves of garlic minced fine (we love garlic!)

1 tablespoon Parmesan

½ cup mozzarella

Optional toppings like bell pepper, onion, olives, and pepperoni as desired.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, sugar, yeast, oregano, thyme, basil and black pepper. Mix in the olive oil and warm water. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out on a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic. In a large bowl turn 2 tablespoons of good olive oil to coat the bowl and the dough. Cover with a damp cloth, and let it raise in a warm place for 20 minutes. (Turn the oven on the lowest setting for a few minutes to warm it, then turn it back off and put the dough in there to raise.)

When the dough has doubled, turn it out into your cast iron skillet, using the oil in the bowl to grease the skillet. Gently spread to size and top with minced garlic, bell pepper, onion, and cheese as desired.

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Focaccia bread ready to bake.

Allow it to raise a second time for another 20 minutes while you preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Just yesterday we were talking about focaccia bread with our friends who lived in Italy for a decade. It’s made differently in different parts of Italy. In some places they add olives, in other places they add cheese or bits of sausage. So here’s your opportunity to get creative and add your favorite things on this dough. But don’t treat it like pizza and load it up with toppings or the bread won’t be able to rise and will have a heavier texture. Sprinkle on the minced garlic, a few slices of green pepper, onion, pepperoni and your favorite cheese. Bake it for 20 minutes at 400 degrees or until golden brown.

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Serve warm!

My Austrian had a few bites, commented on how good it was.

IMG_8957And then…

I can’t even bear to write this.

“I guess I don’t have to make bread anymore.”

Y’all.

I did not see that coming.

I should have, I am not a rookie. But I totally walked right into that one. This is the focaccia bread that ruined MONTHS of fresh bread that happened at our place without me ever lifting a finger, he even washed the dishes afterward.

All that.

Ruined.

You were warned.

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Plates are entirely optional!

Made it.  Ate it.  It was good!

Carmen Shenk Logo Mini

Tiny House Yogurt

We don’t live in our Skoolie yet, but I do have the Skoolie oven already… the Breville Smart Oven Air.  I’m exploring what it will do and my favorite thing so far has been using the dehydrate function to make yogurt.

real yogurt

 Yogurt that you can make and enjoy in your tiny house!

Yogurt is great for gut health, however… grocery store brands load yogurt up with sugar, fruit, and preservatives.  Some kinds of gut problems result from a yeast that feeds on sugar (fruit is a natural sugar), and preservatives are a culprit for other gut health issues – Yikes!  So grocery store yogurt can actually feed the problem instead of helping you heal!  Sucks, right?  Take it from someone who has had a real challenge with gut health – real yogurt – the homemade stuff – is part of the solution, not the problem!  And making your own is rewarding, delicious, good for the environment, and good for the gut health of you and your family!  Did I mention it is delicious?  Good!

When we had our restaurant, we used an Excalibur dehydrator to make yogurt for the fresh yogurt smoothies we had on our menu.  (You know how the VitaMix is the best blender?  Well, Excalibur is the best dehydrator!) We also had green smoothies and fresh juices in the restaurant.  I missed having a dehydrator around for yogurt, kale chips, and beautiful pineapple flowers.  It was one of the sacrifices we made in going tiny, no dehydrator.  No room.

The Breville Smart Oven Air

But when I found the Breville oven with the dehydrate function – SQUEE – I was delighted!  I can have an oven that will bake a pie AND a dehydrator – in one smart package!  We tiny house foodies do enjoy our multi-purpose kitchen tools!!  Plus, this one is $399 which seems like a lot for a toaster oven (it’s not a toaster oven) but when you consider how much less that is than a range it was a no-brainer for us.  (Not for everyone – no worries.)  Since our Skoolie is 128 square feet, we didn’t have room for a full size range, or even a fun-sized one.  I’ve already written about this oven, so check that out if you’re deciding which oven/range/cooktop is best for your tiny haven-home – plus there is a money saving tip at that link as well.

 

Would you like the yogurt recipe I use?

1 gallon whole fat milk.  (I use whole milk because it makes better yogurt and because I’ve read that whole fat is better for you than low fat or non-fat and I’m a purist anyway.  I like things that haven’t been tinkered with too much.)

When I’m ready to make yogurt, I buy some unsweetened whole milk yogurt at the grocery and use that as starter.  Then as long as I don’t eat ALL the yogurt and save some for a starter for the next batch – then there is no need to buy more.  Look on the label for active cultures.

Yep – that’s it.  Milk and yogurt cultures.  Pretty simple, huh?  (And yummy)

I put the milk in my 4.5 quart dutch oven (it just fits) and heat it to 180 degrees.  Since the dutch oven is cast iron, it may continue to rise in temperature a bit once the burner is off but that’s fine.  This step is to kill any bacteria that could be in the milk so that you can add the yogurt bacteria. Getting the milk anywhere between 180 and 195 degrees will do nicely.  Take care to warm the milk gently so that you don’t scald it.  If you think you may walk away and forget about it, set a timer to remind you.  I’ve boiled the milk all over my range before – BIG MESS – that’s why I mention it.  Once the milk hits the right temperature, turn off the heat and let it rest.

Test the temperature periodically until it has cooled to 100-120 degrees.  In my experience this will take about a half hour.  Whisk in the yogurt and transfer the mixture into glass jars.  I like to use the Pint jar with a wide mouth lid, because that way the rings and lids are the same as my food storage quart jars and that way I don’t have to keep two sets of rings and lids around.  Use the 8 ounce size if you want a single serve portion that is perfect to grab and go for a packed lunch.  This is a great way to kick plastic out of your life!  And if you can find milk locally in glass – this is a great zero-waste alternative to all those plastic yogurt containers.  Win!

 

Oh, are you wondering “how much yogurt?” to add to the warm milk?  Yeah, gotcha.  It will work with as little as three tablespoons of yogurt.  I make sure to save one of my jars of yogurt to use as culture – and so I just dump it all in.  Careful not to overflow!

IMG_4116Fill each jar and then carefully clean the jars with a cloth if there is any milk on the outside of the glass, then carefully set them into the Breville oven.  Space them evenly for air flow.  Use the “Select” knob to turn to the dehydrate function, then turn the temperature to 115 degrees.  I set the timer to 15 hours.  You’ll get thin yogurt at 8 hours (overnight works quite well for us) and the longer you go – the more tart and thick the yogurt will become.  Don’t mess with it while it’s in the oven – you won’t be able to tell the consistency while it’s warm anyway.  Just leave it alone in there overnight.  When you get up in the morning, carefully take the jars out to cool on the counter, then transfer them to the fridge.  I’ll put it in there after dinner and let it run all night and I suppose it’s usually in there about 10 hours – give or take.  It turns out delicious!!I suspect this is a project for an overnight where you are plugged in to shore power because it will take some power.  I would not do this while the bus/home is moving.  That could be a rather epic mess.

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My version of “Horse Chow” – our favorite breakfast

I’d love to know it if you make yogurt in your tiny home and what you think of it!

Be well,

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