I think Nicolas Cage said it best in Moonstruck: “They say bread is life. And I bake bread, bread, bread. And I sweat and shovel this stinkin’ dough in and out of this hot hole in the wall, and I should be so happy!” Except, unlike Ronny Cammareri, I like baking bread and I have 2 hands. I also have a handful of very strong opinions about Nicolas Cage as an actor.
Nicolas Cage’s attempt at being British (I think) in Vampire’s Kiss is so hilarious, it makes me laugh just sitting here typing this. I might go rent it tonight actually. [Ed. note- please do not do that.] Who couldn’t use a good Wednesday laugh?
His portrayal of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman in the Spike Jones/Charlie Kaufman movie Adaptation is just brilliant.Brilliant I say!
The big movie trailer scene in the blockbuster hit Face Off, when Cage actually says “Face…off”, makes me have a physical reaction… I frown, shake my head in disbelief, and a single tear slides down my cheek for American Cinema.
Dan and I are pretty sure we saw ol’ Nick walking through The French Quarter in NOLA when we were there on our honeymoon. That has nothing to do with his acting, but blogs are for sharing.
Now before we start baking, I should also share that the bread base for Betty’s focaccia bread was already pretty much vegan and that this recipe was awesome! Last weekend, Dan and I ate the cheezy focaccia loaf in one afternoon with some fancy olive oil for dipping. It gave me a chance to use this book from Crate and Barrel we got as a wedding present. I recommend sharing one of these wonderful loaves of bread with someone you love, and maybe a bottle of San Pellegrino*.
So let’s bake some bread and put a little Dean Martin on… trust me, he’s fun to bake with.
Cheezy Focaccia Bread
2 1/2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour (you might need a little more to flour surfaces)
1 Tablespoon Dried Rosemary (crushed)
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Package Active Dry Yeast (I recommend getting the kind for whole wheat breads; 1 package has about 2 1/4 teaspoons in it if you’re buying bulk)
5 Tablespoons Olive Oil (you might want a little extra to dip your bread in after it’s baked)
1 Cup Very Warm Water (not boiling)
1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast (double if you are making 2 Cheezy Loaves)
2 Tablespoons Daiya Vegan Mozzarella Cheese (shredded, double if you are making 2 Cheezy Loaves)
Vegan Shortening for greasing your bowl
In a large bowl, mix 1 Cup of Flour, Rosemary, Sugar, Salt, 2 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast and Dry Active Yeast. Add 3 tablespoons of Olive Oil and the warm Water. Mix with a handheld electric mixer with bread attachments if you have them, or if you don’t, just keep an eye on the mixer. The Dough gets really sticky and can basically crawl up into the mixer. Mix for 3 minutes. Then slowly mix in enough of the Whole Wheat Flour your Dough is soft and pulls from the side of the bowl.
Place Dough on a lightly floured surface and knead bread for 6 minutes. You want the Dough to be springy and smooth. Grease a large bowl with Vegan Shortening. When you put your Dough in the greased bowl, turn it a few times to makes sure it gets greased on all sides. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise in a warm place for a half hour. Once the Dough has grown twice it’s size and an indentation remains when you touch it, you’re ready to move on to the next step.
If you have a pizza stone, you can lightly four it. If you’re going to bake with a cookie sheet, you’ll need to spray it lightly with Olive Oil cooking spray.
Gently push your fist into the Dough to deflate. Divide the Dough into 2 equal portions. Shape each half into a flattened 10 inch round loaf. Cover them loosely again with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for another 30 minutes.
During this time, preheat your oven to 400.
Once your Dough has risen, gently make shallow impressions about 2 inches apart in the Dough with your fingers like so:
Then brush with 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil and sprinkle with a 2 Tablespoons of Nutritional Yeast and 2 Tablespoons of Daiya. If you don’t want your bread so cheezy, you might want to use a little less Nutritional Yeast and Daiya.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Red Onion Focaccia Bread
(follow the directions above til you get to the part where you brush the Olive Oil on. This is for one loaf; if you want to make two, double it )
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1/2 Red Onion (thinly sliced – thinner than I did in the picture)
1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
2 Cloves Garlic (minced)
In your handy cast iron skillet, heat Olive Oil on a medium heat. Once the Oil is warm, toss in the Red Onion and let cook for 5 minutes. Then toss in the Garlic and Onion Powder. Let cook for another 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Cook until the Onions are tender and begin to brown.
After second rising of the Dough and shaping of the loaves, spread the cooked Onions and Garlic over the Loaves. There will be a lot of Olive Oil in the pan you used to brown the Onions. You should drizzle the extra Oil over the Dough evenly. Try to not let it puddle too much in the shallow pockets.
Bake just like the Cheezy version. For 15 to 20 minutes or until the Bread is a golden brown at 400.
*Have I ever mentioned before that I’m a Mineral Water Addict. I mean it. I fucking love the stuff.