We’re heading into Memorial Day weekend (ummm, WHAT. How. When.) with no plans whatsoever. Elliott has to work the entire weekend (boo!), so it’ll be me, Avery and this za’atar focaccia bread (yay!) all weekend long.
So, actually, I lied. Because my plans this weekend are to devour this bread slice after slice. If it even makes it to the weekend.
I’m hoping there also will be some warmth and sunshine, too — maybe even a few walks or trips to the lake — but if nothing else, I know my carb needs for the holiday weekend will be met. That is top priority, really.
The downtime this weekend is very welcome, actually. It’s been a crazy month so far of celebrations and illnesses and yardwork and errands and yada yada yada — basically, all those life things adults have to deal with on a regular basis. And as we took a half-hour breather this afternoon from the chaos to go for a walk on the nature path that winds behind our quaint neighborhood, we realized at least one of us is traveling every month for the next five months.
In a couple of weeks, it’ll be to Vermont. Then, to Florida. Then, to Oregon. Then, to Utah. Then, to Nevada. Heck, maybe we should just keep the trend going and add Hawaii in there, too, for the month of November? And maybe Europe in December? I’m just thinking/dreaming out loud here.
Our travels all will be for good things, thankfully, but even then it can be overwhelming to look ahead to all of our plans. Plans, plans, plans. Sometimes I feel like that is all our life is — just a jumbled mess of jotted-down dates on a calendar, rushing to here and to there and every place in between, with barely a moment to catch our breaths. Is this what life is always like as an adult? As a parent? As a spouse? Can’t a girl just get a moment to chill, maybe put up her feet a bit, maybe have a snack of carbs? I don’t think it’s too much to ask.
I’m not complaining. I promise. I’m just saying that sometimes, when I think about all of the plans all at once, I get overwhelmed and just want to run away from it all — preferably to my happy place, to my kitchen, and slow things down and bake. That’s what I love so much about the baking process, especially when it comes to bread — because it’s on its own schedule, and you must yield to it in order to achieve the best result. In this case, that result is a perfectly fluffy, tender and lightly chewy focaccia with an olive oil drizzle and savory za’atar spice sprinkled on top.
I’m no stranger to focaccia, but I am fairly new to this whole za’atar thing — and I am already a fan. It’s a unique spice blend, most often used in Middle Eastern or Mediterranean meat and vegetable recipes but also added to hummus or mixed into sauces. And now, we know it also happens to be fantastic on top of focaccia, especially with an extra drizzle of olive oil while still warm from the oven. That’s how I’ve come to enjoy it most — though eating it in the days after (dipped into hummus, used as a sandwich bread or munched on plain as a snack/appetizer/dinner side dish) has been pretty tasty, too.
So, what are your Memorial Day plans? I hope they’re as wonderfully relaxing and carb-filled as mine.
- 2¼ teaspoons (1 packet) Red Star active dry yeast
- 1¾ cups warm water (about 110 to 115 degrees F), divided
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
- 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon za'atar spice*
- In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, combine yeast and ½ cup warm water. Let sit 5 minutes until yeast begins to foam.
- Add remaining 1¼ cups warm water, 2 tablespoons olive oil, flour and salt. Use a wooden spoon or dough hook attachment to stir until a dough forms.
- On a lightly floured surface, knead dough by hand 5 to 7 minutes, adding more flour as needed until dough is smooth, soft, elastic and only slightly sticky; OR, using dough hook on medium speed, knead dough in stand mixer 3 to 4 minutes, adding more flour as needed until dough is smooth, soft, elastic and only slightly sticky.
- Pour remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil into a clean large bowl. Shape dough into a ball and place in bowl; turn to coat in oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a tea towel and let rise 1 hour until doubled.
- Meanwhile, brush a large rimmed baking sheet (about 11 by 17 inches) with olive oil. Punch down risen dough and transfer to baking sheet. Gently press dough evenly into baking sheet all the way to the edges; if it resists, let it sit 5 to 10 minutes, then press again. It may take some patience, but the gluten will eventually relax and the dough will yield and stretch.
- Cover baking sheet with 2 upside-down cooling racks; top racks with a damp kitchen towel. Let dough rise 30 to 45 minutes until puffy.
- Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Use fingertips to make indents all over dough. Drizzle dough with olive oil, then sprinkle za'atar spice on top.
- Bake focaccia 30 minutes until golden brown. Drizzle with more olive oil just before serving.
*Za’atar spice can be found online (I bought this kind) or at Middle Eastern specialty food stores.
Disclosure: I received compensation from Red Star Yeast for recipe development purposes. All opinions are my own. This post contains an affiliate link.