Summertime and the living is, well, BUSY!! I just taught two classes and need to focus on my next book, so this week, just like on your TV set, you’ll be getting re-runs. Today and Friday I’m featuring blogs from spring of 2009, when many of you weren’t reading here. In the spirit of CHUsday, here’s an old recipe, and looking back, I can’t remember making it in the past six months. So obviously the time has come again. Rosemary focaccia is an old friend if not a new discovery. This is a great end of summer bread because it’s quick and easy and you have many wonderful things to do besides stand at the stove. Just don’t tell your family how easy it is.
I first “noticed” focaccia while having dinner at a friend’s house. Jim had baked his own, and I was instantly hooked. I’m sure I’d had it outside of Italy, but never right out of the oven. At home I found a recipe and tried it. Okay, but not as good as Jim’s. The next time I saw him I asked for his secret. “Make sure the dough is sticky,” he told me. “Don’t add too much flour. As sticky as you can get away with is just right.”
With that in mind I began to work with a recipe I downloaded from Epicurious, a wonderful online source for recipes. I particularly love the reviews and suggestions, and usually pay close attention to them.
The Epicurious version of Rosemary Focaccia had its fans, but some reviewers complained the ratio of flour and water wasn’t correct. After trying it, and taking Jim’s advice to heart, I had to agree. So here’s my revised version. This is a basic recipe, so feel free to experiment with a little whole wheat, ground flax seed, or any number of other additions.
Emilie’s Rosemary (and Garlic) Focaccia
1 package of yeast
4 cups unbleached white flour (plus additional as needed)
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
2 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1 Tablespoon rosemary softened in 3 additional Tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves pressed garlic (optional)
- 1 t Kosher or coarse sea salt
In the bowl of a standing mixer, add yeast to 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water. Let stand until creamy. (If you’re using Rapid Rise yeast, you can proceed without waiting.)
Add 4 cups of flour, 1/4 cup of oil, and table salt. Using the dough hook, beat until smooth and best of all, sticky for 4-5 minutes. The dough should just barely stick to your mixing bowl. If it’s too sticky, add additional flour one Tablespoon at a time. Stop the mixer and poke with your finger. If it’s not damp enough, turn the mixer back on and add water one Tablespoon at a time until dough is moist to the touch.
Transfer dough to an oiled bowl. I let mine rise in my oven, but I preheat it for a minute first to warm the interior–make sure you turn it back off! Cover dough with plastic wrap or a towel, and let it rise for an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes–until doubled.
While it’s rising, add the rosemary to the 3 Ts of oil and give the rosemary time to infuse the oil with flavor. Press the optional garlic cloves and add to the oil, as well.
When the dough has doubled, generously spray or oil a jelly roll pan (15″ by 10″ by 2″) and gently stretch and press down the dough to fit. Allow this to rise another hour until just even or a bit above the lip of your pan. Preheat oven to 425 degrees, and as it preheats, make gentle indentations in your dough with your thumb. Fifteen or so. Don’t worry, it won’t deflate unless you’re in a REALLY bad mood and you’re taking it out on your bread.
Brush the rosemary/garlic oil–along with the rosemary and garlic–over the bread, allowing it to pool in the indentations. Sprinkle with sea/Kosher salt and bake until golden for 20-25 minutes. If you use the optional pressed garlic, the smell while baking will drive you wild.
Although focaccia is fabulous just as it is in the above photo–with a little olive oil mixed with herbs for dipping–it also makes the most wonderful sandwiches. Slice a good-sized chunk horizontally, fill with sliced cheese (I like pepper jack for this) and chopped tomatoes. Brush one interior side with a little light mayonnaise and grill in a panini grill. Don’t have one? Pull out that old George Foreman grill you haven’t used for awhile and use that instead. That’s all I do, and I never get tired of these sandwiches.
Focaccia also makes wonderful appetizers. Toast, lightly covered with olive oil, mozarella, tomatoes, and the fruits of your imagination.