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  Fennel Foccacia



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2 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 teaspoon honey or sugar
1 package dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon honey or sugar
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
6-7 cups all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons fennel seeds, toasted, cooled and crushed with a mortar and pestle
1 head fennel sliced very thinly
1 teaspoon fennel seeds

Mix together 1/2 cup warm water with 1/2 teaspoon of honey and yeast.
Place 2 cups warm water in large bowl and add salt, 1 Tablespoon honey, 1/4 cup olive oil and 4 cups flour.
Stir until stretchy strands form. Stir in yeast and toasted, crushed fennel seeds.
Sprinkle counter with 1 cup flour and pour dough from bowl onto floured counter.
Knead for 5-8 minutes, adding flour as needed to create smooth soft dough.
Place ball of dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a hot, damp towel and put in warm place to rise.
After dough is doubled, punch down and let rise until doubled again.
Coat two cookie sheets with 1/4 cup olive oil each.
Divide dough in half, press each half into a flat rectangle right on the cookie sheet.
Flip dough to coat with oil and continue to press and stretch with fingertips until the focaccia covers the pan.
Let rise 45 minutes in a warm place. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Scatter half of the sliced fennel and half of the untoasted fennel seeds on top of each unbaked focaccia.
Push lightly into dough.
Place both cookie sheets on the same shelf if possible and bake 30 minutes until golden and crispy.
If focaccia must be on separate shelves, be sure to rotate.
Let focaccia cool for 10-15 minutes in pan. Remove from pan, cut and serve.
Place leftovers in airtight container and eat within a week.

Fennel and Orange
Cut two thin slices (with peel) from the center of an orange. Cut each slice into eight small pieces.
Press wedges of orange around the edge of the focaccia before baking.
Try the color contrast of a red or blood orange for a particularly striking focaccia.
Fennel and Tomato
Cut 4 grape tomatoes into lengthwise quarters.
Place each tomato piece skin side down around the edge of the unbaked focaccia.
Lightly press into dough. Drizzle with a little additional oil.

Copyright © 2019 Stefanie Samara Hamblen