As much as my kids love sweets, they get more excited when I have homemade bread waiting for them when they come home. Last week I made some focaccia bread which is one of our family's favorite breads. I used a recipe from my Williams Sonoma Baking book, which you can find a similar recipe here: Williams Sonoma Focaccia Bread
For a long time I was totally against bread machines. I used to knead the dough with my KitchenAid mixer and thought that a bread machine would be unnecessary. The few times I've had bread made in a bread machine I thought it tasted funny, so I figured it was because it baked in a counter-top appliance rather than the oven. Then I got turned on to the idea of using a bread machine to make dough. After this discovery I make homemade bread more often than before because it helps eliminate some of the messy steps involved in bread making.
To use a bread maker you must layer your ingredients according to the manual. The one I have says to start with the liquids, flour, sugar and/or salt, and then yeast. So any bread recipe can be adapted to using the bread maker if you arrange the ingredients in the appropriate order. Of course it is also a good idea to make sure you have enough space for the bread you are making. My bread maker makes up to a 1Kg loaf of bread. Many recipes make two loaves of bread, so you might need to reduce the bread recipe by half. In general you can reduce or increase bread recipes without much trouble.
This is what the dough looks like when the bread machine is done with it.
From there I punch the dough down and take it out of the machine.
I dump it onto my baking sheet. In this case I am making
two smaller loaves of focaccia bread since my oven is small.
You need to stretch the dough out to fill the size of the pan. If the dough springs back every time you stretch it out, then let it rest for 5 minutes and try again. Once you get the bread to fill the pan, then cover it with a clean towel and let it rise for an hour and a half.
Once it has risen, dimple the dough with your fingers (as shown on the right).
From here you can add the flavors you wish. Simply brush on some olive oil and sprinkle your seasoning. On the left I have sea salt and on the right is Italian seasoning. You can add all sorts of flavors such as: onions, olives, cheese, or any herb seasonings.