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Focaccia Bread Recipe

Jamie Oliver Photography

This flat Italian bread is cheap, dead simple to make, and great for kids. Get them to knead the dough then choose their favorite toppings and I bet even the fussiest eater will love it. Try it with soups, salads, and grilled meats or use the rosemary-garlic end to make sandwiches for a picnic.

Round One: Place 1 3/4 cups each white bread flour and whole-wheat flour and 1 1/2 tsp sea salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center. In a separate small bowl, add 1 (1/4 oz) envelope of active dry yeast and 1 1/2 tsp sugar to 1 cup lukewarm water. Mix; when it foams, pour into the well, blending in the flour with a fork as you go (add a splash more water if needed). When the dough comes together, tip it onto a flour-dusted surface and knead vigorously for 5 minutes (kids love doing this part, though you might have to finish it), until smooth and springy.

Lightly oil the bowl, add the dough, and dust with flour. Cover with a clean, damp dish towel, and leave it to rise in a warm, draft-free place for 30 minutes, until doubled in size. Prepare your toppings.

Round Two: Once the dough has risen, pound it a few times with your fists to knock the air out, then transfer to a flour-dusted 11 by 15-inch baking sheet and spread out to the corners. Cover with the same dish towel and leave to rise for 30 minutes, until doubled in size again. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Round Three: Poke the dough with your fingers to create little holes. Scatter each topping (see below) over one third of the dough. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

SERVES 16 TOTAL PREP AND BAKE TIME: 2 HOURS

My 3 Favorite Toppings

Mix each of these combos with 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. 1 1/2 cup halved ripe cherry tomatoes and 1 clove peeled, finely sliced garlic. Scatter leaves from a few fresh basil sprigs over this section of the bread when cool. 2 1 cup cooked sliced baby new potatoes and leaves from a few sprigs of fresh thyme, with 1 oz goat cheese crumbled on top. 3 With a mortar and pestle, pound 1 clove peeled garlic with the leaves from a sprig of fresh rosemary.

How Big's a Serving?

An adult serving = 3 by 3 1/2-inch piece.

One serving for ages 2 to 11 = 2 by 2 1/2-inch to 3 1/2-inch piece, depending on age, size, and activity level.

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